BYOD adoption not as prevalent as you may think

BYOD isn't catching on as quickly as you may think, according to a new CompTIA survey. Even fewer companies have any kind of mobility policy. Here's why.

Despite the hype, BYOD adoption is not as widespread as it seems.

About half of the 400 IT and business executives at U.S. companies surveyed in CompTIA Inc.'s third annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility study said they do not allow bring your own device (BYOD) in their environments -- about the same as the previous year, according to Seth Robinson, director of technology analysis for the non-profit IT trade association.

There isn't one big reason why companies shy away from the BYOD trend. Of those companies that don't support BYOD, 5% said it was because of compliance regulations, 22% were concerned about security and, perhaps most interestingly, 29% don't allow BYOD because they found it more cost-effective to deploy corporate-owned devices.

On the flipside, 19% of the companies that support some form of BYOD found it to be more cost-effective than buying devices for employees.

The red tape that surrounds [BYOD policies] makes it more challenging.

Norm Waslynchuk,
IT director, Abell Pest Control

"This is typical of what we see in the early stages of a trend," Robinson said. "Companies are figuring out this cost equation. Early analysis may indicate there will be savings for one road or the other that you would go down."

The biggest reason 40% of companies said no to BYOD was to consolidate IT support for company mobile devices. While the appeal of BYOD is that IT can shift some of the responsibilities of supporting devices to employees, non-BYOD companies find device management less cumbersome or costly, Robinson said.

"If they are going to do that, then managing their own devices and having a restricted list of devices leads to greater efficiency in providing that support," Robinson said.

Companies like Abell Pest Control in Toronto, which provides company-issued Google Android and Apple iOS devices instead of BYOD, aren't concerned so much about device management as BYOD policies.

"There's lots of software that will allow BYOD, but it's the red tape that surrounds the policies that makes it more challenging," said Norm Waslynchuk, Abell's IT director.

Without strong policies in place, BYOD can cause headaches. For example, if a BYOD phone is dropped, questions can be raised about who is responsible for repairs or if a temporary replacement can be issued without it hindering that employee's productivity or ability to bring in business.

"If the phone number is customer facing, then a termination means that the customer could still deal with the terminated employee afterwards since they own the phone," Waslynchuk said.

Only about 30% of the companies surveyed by CompTIA actually have a formal mobility policy in place, up just 6% from the previous year. Thirty-seven percent of companies are working on building a mobile policy, while 21% only share best practices and 10% have no set policy or practices around mobility.

Part of the challenge is that mobility is quickly becoming a technological business process that is not dictated by IT, according to Robinson.

"We have the lines of business here that are getting much more involved when it comes to procurement by getting their own technology and bypassing IT," Robinson said.

Aligning a mobility policy with the overall needs and vision of an organization will be a key component of mobility and BYOD working for businesses going forward, with different divisions within an organization having a say in that policy, according to Robinson.

Mobility, BYOD should help with productivity

BYOD has long been considered the primary driver of the consumerization of IT. As consumer mobile devices, many running operating systems from mobile giants like Apple and Google, become more prevalent in everyday life, its proliferation has significantly impacted enterprises of all shapes and sizes.

At a recent Tech in Motion event in Boston, several CTOs and mobile experts spoke about the importance of BYOD in a business environment where employees expect to work from devices they want to use.

"People want to bring their own devices and nothing you can do will stop them," said Yoni Samlan, head of mobile for Boston-based mobile payments application company LevelUp. "It's up to enterprises to catch up to that and any enterprise that can't catch up to that is going to lose employees."

Productivity was the main driver for the companies who adopted BYOD, according to the CompTIA survey, with many of those companies employing it as part of an overall mobility policy with its workers.

"Productivity is something companies need to take a close look at if they are pursuing mobility," Robinson said. "Productivity should result in better business results and companies should weigh any investment or decision in mobility against a measurement of how your business objectives are changing."

For Boston mobile application development company RaizLabs, it's important that employees have the devices and technology they need to do their job, according to Greg Raiz, CEO, at the Tech in Motion event.

For example, RaizLabs will buy tablets for Android developers if they don't have tablets of their own, while some of their developers can use their own iPhones to test apps if that's their preference.

"I want to empower them to be able to make that choice," Raiz said.

Another approach is to employ a corporate-owned, personally-enabled model where employees get to choose between a number of device models supported by corporate IT.

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