Workers today want more and more flexibility between home and the office and companies are warming up to that idea. The 2011 CIO Magazine Consumerization of IT Survey, conducted in September with a base of 556 CIOs, shows that 49 percent are allowing their employees to do work on personal devices from home or the office.
Currently most companies aren’t yet able to support every possible operating system and device but 44 percent say they are working to expand the list to include more consumer devices, with 74 percent of IT groups still favoring BlackBerry and 67 percent sticking with Apple’s iOS.
Tablets, a relatively new addition to the list of consumer devices used in the enterprise, are quickly catching up to smartphones in adoption. Forty-eight percent of those polled say they currently support employee-owned tablets and 59 percent of IT groups are specifically supporting iPads.
Shyam Desigan, CIO and CFO at Volunteers of America Chesapeake has brought tablets to the forefront of his mobile testing. Being that his organization deals with a lot of temporary employees, the case management and time/attendance applications need to be accessible from whichever device the volunteer has at the moment. Desigan says those are the only applications accessible because they have to limit how much critical business information they put on mobile devices. Desigan now supports Android and iOS, and is testing Android tablets.
The ability to access critical business information on-the-go is a driver of the consumerization of IT but more IT leaders are saying that they also need to keep users happy as well as productive. The survey indicates CIOs are getting those results and view consumerization of IT as having a positive impact on user satisfaction (83 percent), user productivity (81 percent) and access to critical business information (74 percent).
Scott Saundry, CTO of law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain, is diversifying his mobile strategy to continue driving those results. Lawyers at the firm are constantly working on the go and need access to corporate applications and email; but more importantly, Saundry says they need mobile devices to work seamlessly and not be disruptive to their workflow.
“Having a good mobile platform allows them to maintain that out of office connection,” he says. He gives employees the choice of an iPhone or Blackberry, and supports a small number of Windows phones.
“We are trying to allow [them] to pick what makes sense to them; a personal device as well as a work device.” Saundry notes that a cookie cutter approach just won’t cut it but in order to allow the freedom that the lawyers want, he has to assign them part of the responsibility due to the firm’s increased security risks. “We’re promoting it as a shared responsibility, it’s not just an IT problem, it’s also the end users’ [problem],” he says. “We still have to be in control of the data.”
Despite the rise of more progressive mobile strategies, security concerns linger for many CIOs with 82 percent citing that as the most bothersome issue in the way of IT becoming fully consumer-centric.
Saundry agrees saying it’s imperative,“that’s why we don’t compromise on hardware encryption and passwords,” he says.
Other Findings from the Consumerization of IT Study Include:An additional 12% of organizations provide an allowance for employees to buy personal devices to use for work, while only one-quarter (27%) require employees to use company provided devices. This percentage is significantly higher among enterprise (1,000+) organizations with 32% requiring employees to use company provided devices vs. 20% of small- to mid-sized organizations ( In terms of specific devices, three-quarters of respondent IT departments (74%) currently support BlackBerry phones, whether these are company-provided or employee owned. Other well supported devices include the iPhone (67%) and the iPad (59%). Overall virtually all IT departments (95%) are currently supporting some type of consumer device whether company-provided or employee-owned.
The consumerization of IT trend is expected to have the most positive impact on the following areas of respondent businesses over the next 12-18 months: user satisfaction (83% dramatic or moderate positive impact), user productivity (81%), access to critical business information (74%), and process efficiency collaboration (74%). However this trend is also creating negative impact on enterprise security (49% dramatic or moderate negative impact).
Similarly, the top challenge in embracing the consumerization of IT trend is security (82%). This is even more critical at enterprise organizations (87%) vs. small- to mid-sized organizations (79%).
Using the Gartner Hype Cycle, respondents perceive their organizations to have reached the following stage of the consumerization of IT, with more than half in the two earliest stages: technology trigger (26%), peak of inflated expectations (28%), trough of disillusionment (8%), slope of enlightenment (29%) and plateau of productivity (9%).
Roughly half of respondent organizations (51%) have implemented or are considering implementing unified communications as well as e-commerce or e-purchasing applications (41%).
In making decisions regarding platforms to support, 84% of respondent organizations are concerned about adopting one platform only to have another platform dominate the market shortly thereafter. Among concerned respondents, the majority (91%) are taking some sort of action in response to these concerns including avoiding vendor lock-in/dependency on a single vendor (73%) and delaying purchasing/deployment (28%)
While 45% of respondents are extremely or very confident that their organizations are making the right decisions about consumer devices and platforms to support overall organizational goals, an additional 42% are only somewhat confident in these decisions. Not surprisingly, confidence is significantly higher among top IT executives (52%) vs. 39% among those that are not top IT executives.
In order to measure the ROI of supporting consumer devices and platforms, end-user productivity is the top metric used at 52%, followed by employee morale (37%), external customer satisfaction (34%) and revenue growth (27%).
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