The "Bring Your Own Device" phenomenon, largely driven by Apple iPhones and iPads, is changing the face of IT departments, perhaps reaching a tipping point. If CIOs thought mobile devices presented challenges before, they haven't seen anything yet.
"IT departments need to be service organizations," says CTO Aaron Freimark at services firm Tekserve, which helps Fortune 1000 companies adopt Apple products. "The most conservative financial institutions are seeing all of these iPhones on their networks and accessing Exchange servers. We're reaching a critical mass this year, when companies are forced to deal with it."
MobileIron and iPass released a joint study, 2013 Mobile Enterprise Report, that found IT increasingly losing control of mobility budgets to other departments. In 2011, 53 percent of IT departments managed the mobile budget. This number dipped to 48 percent in 2012.
This year just might be the year of BYOD and the mobile workforce change how IT operates, or at least putting more emphasis on services. A new report from Forrester found that at least a quarter of a billion global information workers already practice BYOD in some form. A third of information workers want iPhones, or 208 million global information workers. Nearly the same amount want Windows tablets.
Along these lines, the Mobile Enterprise Report found that tablet usage increased in all non-executive departments between 2011 and 2012, with legal and HR seeing the biggest hike followed by finance and accounting.
Part of what's driving BYOD is the emergence of next-generation workers, the Millennials. Many of these workers, between the ages of 18 and 29, are willing to blend work and personal lives, which goes hand-in-hand with BYOD. According to the Forrester report, the rise of "anytime, anywhere" workers in the United States and Europe grew from 15 percent to 28 percent of employees between 2011 and 2012.
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What does this mean for CIOs? Change is in the wind, one that's blowing toward becoming a service organization.
The top two sources of BYOD frustration for an IT department are onboarding and supporting an increasing number of devices, according to the Mobile Enterprise Report. The latter is one of the concerns that CTO Bill Murphy at financial services firm Blackstone Group has about supporting BYOD tablets beyond the iPad. (For more on this, check out How a Big Financial Services Firm Faced BYOD iPads.)
"Right now, the amount we do for our users as it relates to mobile devices is vast," Murphy says. "If we had to support 15 types of devices, we wouldn't have the staff to be able to handle it."
Echoing the sentiments of Murphy, Freimark and others, the Forrester report states:
"For CIOs, BYOD is both an opportunity to outsource cost to employees and also a call to action to implement security models and application architectures that are device-agnostic. Only in this way can you get out of the business of device provisioning and into the business of service provisioning, and that's where you can make a real difference in employee's satisfaction and productivity."
Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Consumerization of IT for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org