For Many, It's BYOD or the Highway

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Gartner finds 38 percent of companies worldwide say they expect to stop providing mobile devices to their staff by 2016.

BYOD

Editor’s note:  As part of our special editorial partnership, Channelnomics is publishing this recent article from CRN in the UK.

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Some 38 percent of companies around the world asked by Gartner Inc. have indicated they expect to stop providing devices to their staff by 2016.

The figure comes from a global survey of CIOs as part of Gartner's executive research program, and suggests BYOD will soon represent much more than just an expansion of choice for employees. Organizations that only offer corporate-liable device programs will soon be the exception, Gartner said in its related announcement.

David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said BYOD strategies are proving the most radical change to the economics and culture of business client computing for decades.

"The benefits of BYOD include creating new mobile workforce opportunities, increasing employee satisfaction, and reducing or avoiding costs," he added.

Gartner's research indicates employers are likely to begin reducing their subsidy offer to staff, even for smartphones. There were several reasons for this, he suggested.

"The organization should subsidize only the service plan on a smartphone," Willis said. "What happens if you buy a device for an employee and he or she leaves the job a month later? How are you going to settle up? Better to keep it simple. The employee owns the device, and the company helps to cover usage costs."

BYOD increases risks and changes expectations for CIOs, and security remains a top concern. Data can easily leak from mobile platforms, especially as some mobile devices are designed to share data in the cloud by default, often incorporating no general-purpose file system for applications to share, the announcement said.

This increases the possibility for data to be copied between applications and moved between applications and the cloud, Gartner said.

BYOD also "drives innovation for CIOs", said Gartner, by increasing mobile app users, and offering new opportunities such as time sheets, punch lists, site check-in, and self-service HR as well as mobile communication.

Willis warned however that the business case should be looked at more carefully than many firms appear to be doing.

"Most leaders do not understand the benefits, and only 22 percent believe they have made a strong business case. Like other elements of the nexus of forces – cloud, mobile, social and information – mobile initiatives are often exploratory and may not have a clearly defined and quantifiable goal, making IT planners uncomfortable.

"If you are offering BYOD, take advantage of the opportunity to show the rest of the organization the benefits it will bring to them and to the business," he said.

Currently BYOD is most prevalent in mid-size and large organizations turning over $500 million to $5 billion a year, with 2,500 to 5,000 staff, and U.S. firms are "twice as likely" to allow BYOD as those in Europe. However, it also permits SMBs to become more mobile without investing enormously in hardware and services.

"We are finally reaching the point where IT officially recognizes what has always been going on: People use their business device for non-work purposes," said Willis. "They often use a personal device in business. Once you realize that, you will understand you need to protect data in another way besides locking down the full device."

For more UK channel coverage from CRN, visit www.channelweb.co.uk

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