New Research Shows the Truth about BYOD Policies

By | Jul 20, 2012

Dimension Data, an ICT services and solutions partner, has revealed the results of a study that they conducted on North American telecommunication professionals. The data gives IT firms a glimpse into how mobile devices are being managed in the workplace, and it could shed some light on the future of the BYOD movement. The research has discovered that nearly 60 percent of corporations assume complete control over their employees' tablets and smartphones. This includes the initial purchase of the mobile device, enforcement of security tools and software, management over downloadable applications, and the payment of monthly data plans.

According to an article by Business Wire, the data also shows that the BYOD trend has gained several different levels of acceptance, heavily dependent on the company's employee culture. Twenty-two percent of those surveyed said that they use a combination of both corporate-run and personally-managed devices. This hybrid approach suggests that many IT firms want to test the BYOD strategy without fully exposing themselves to the risks involved. If the transition is deemed successful and leads to an increase in employee productivity, then the business will gradually allow more users to bring their own devices to work. Furthermore, the study found that only 10 percent of enterprises enforce a full-scale BYOD policy; a program in which employees are expected to pay for both the phone itself and all of its monthly phone charges.

The study also investigated the main reasons behind an enterprise's decision to adopt a BYOD program. The results indicated that 19 percent of businesses simply wanted to please their employees. Another 17 percent of businesses thought that the program would increase productivity, while 15 percent assumed that the move would lower the company's mobile expenditures.

Although the BYOD movement has often been associated with lower costs, the study helped to determine whether this assumption was true. After surveying businesses that had previously enforced a BYOD policy, 67 percent said that the program had no effect on company costs. Meanwhile, 24 percent believed that BYOD had actually raised expenses and only a mere 9 percent of businesses were able to successfully lower costs.

Midsize businesses can look into the statistics for an indication as to where the industry is headed. The results show that the BYOD movement is slowly being embraced by the corporate community, but it hasn't yet been used to its full potential. For example, only a tenth of businesses are exclusively using a BYOD system.

That said, IT departments have been intrigued by the idea and a large amount of enterprises are testing these programs on a small scale. This means that the future of personally-owned devices is heavily reliant on how businesses fair during this testing period; a time-frame that may span several years. If company expenditures can be lowered as a result of this movement, then expect the BYOD trend to pick up steam.

Unfortunately, the study found that only 9 percent of businesses were able to cut costs using a BYOD program. This was probably due to the high rates associated with individual smartphone purchases. In contrast, enterprises that offer corporate-issued devices have the luxury of buying phones and data plans in bulk; a purchase that often comes at significantly reduced costs. Therefore, organizations under the assumption that a BYOD program will save them money will probably be met with disappointment. This realization could effectively slow the growth of the BYOD trend; after all, the study revealed that 15 percent of businesses have adopted BYOD for the sole purpose of lowering expenditures.

Although Dimension Data has released a vast amount of statistics, IT shouldn't read too much into these numbers. As long as your business takes the time to carefully plan the BYOD transition, there is no reason why it shouldn't be successful.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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