Nearly half of IT shops ignore BYOD

'Live-to-work' ethos is driving faster personal device use at work

The results of a multinational employee survey published today by public research firm Ovum, shows 46.1% of respondents believe their IT shops ignore the use of personal mobile devices for business purposes.

The October survey of 3,796 full-time employees from corporations in 17 countries revealed 28.4% of employees believe their IT shops are aware of their mobile device use but ignore it, while 17.7% say their IT departments simply don't know it goes on.

Another 45.8% of survey respondents say their IT executives actively encourage a bring your own device (BYOD) policy for business purposes, such as accessing email and corporate documents. Only 8.1% of those surveyed indicated their IT departments actively discourage BYOD.

The survey only included employees from companies with 50 or more full-time workers.

"The thing we find so shocking is that there are such a range of tools out there that make it easy for IT to manage BYOD environments," said Adrian Drury, a practice leader for consumer IT at Ovum. "At the end of the day, chances are you'll have a data loss event with BYOD."

Tools such as mobile device management software allow an IT shop to remotely wipe mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, if they are lost or an employee leaves the company.

Seventy-five percent of respondents in the emerging, "high-growth" markets (including Brazil, Russia, India, UAE, and Malaysia) demonstrated a much higher propensity to use their own devices at work, compared to 44% in more mature markets.

The survey also of revealed that 79% of respondents in high-growth business markets, such as Malaysia, India and Brazil, see BYOD as key to career advancement. Only 53.3% of those surveyed in mature market countries, such as European Union nations and the U.S., believe mobile devices can help their careers.

A notable anomaly to this latter trend is Spain, where 62.8% of employees bring their own devices to work -- well above the developed market mean. "This could have something to do with the struggling economy: people are willing to use any and all means necessary to get ahead in their jobs, as losing them could be disastrous, given the high rates of unemployment," said Richard Absalom, a consumer impact IT analyst at Ovum.

Driving the trend in high-growth markets is the predisposition of professionals to "live to work," as well as the lower rate of corporate provision of mobile handsets and tablets.

"We see this clear trend that employees in high-growth markets are very happy and open to using their own device for work 24 hours a day and don't see it as an imposition on their time," Drury said. "They see it as a way to advance their career, be more productive ... these kinds of key benefits."

While somewhat obvious, the survey did reveal that workers surveyed in more established market countries, such as the U.S. and the U.K., were far less willing to allow their employers to contact them via mobile devices during off-work hours, Drury said.

Ovum performed its web-based survey of companies in Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa, The United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.

"Employees in high-growth, emerging economies are demonstrating a more flexible attitude to working hours, and are happy to use their own devices for work," Absalom said. "This bifurcation in behavior will shape not just future patterns of enterprise mobility in high-growth markets compared to mature markets, but also dictate which markets, structurally, are going to benefit most from this revolution in how and where we work."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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