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BYOD Resistance Is 'Futile'

Stop trying to make the wave roll back, cautions analyst group, and instead focus on securing your employees' BYOD smartphones and tablets.
Tablet Buying Demystified: 10 Tips
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Tablet Buying Demystified: 10 Tips
If you're still determined to stem the tide of employee-owned devices, forget about it, says London-based analyst Ovum. Give up. That battle is over, and the users won.

Tablets especially are on the rise in the office, according to the results of Ovum's 2013 BYOX – Bring Your Own Anything -- employee attitude survey, released Wednesday at the BYOX World Forum in London.

"Trying to stand in the path of consumerized mobility is likely to be a damaging and futile exercise," warned Richard Absalom, Ovum consumer impact technology analyst, in a statement. "We believe businesses are better served exploiting this behavior to increase employee engagement and productivity and promote the benefits of enterprise mobility."

Focus instead on looking to work with your internal customers to help them find safe and appropriate products to use, he said.

[ Here's how Windows 8 might succeed in the enterprise. Read Windows 8's Best Chance Depends On BYOD? ]

Survey results suggest that BYOD is the new normal, with BYOD activity by full-time employees remaining steady at just under 60% over the past two years. Of that number, nearly 70% of smartphone or tablet-owing employees say they use their device to access corporate data. Personal tablet ownership by staff is rising, from 28.4% to 44.5% over the last 12 month, according to the survey, suggesting businesses will see more of these devices on their networks.

Most employees who own smartphones (67.8%) bring them to work, with 15.4% of that number doing so without the IT department's knowledge -- and 20.9% doing so in defiance of company anti-BYOD rules.

The survey also asked employees about the software they use on their mobile devices. Email and calendar are the most commonly used applications whether the device was personally or company owned. However, other applications are on the rise, and are increasingly being found and installed by employees, not IT. Those include enterprise social networks (25.6%), file syncing and sharing services (22.1%), and instant messaging and VoIP (30.7%).

"IT is not keeping up with the changing demands and behavior patterns of the new mobilized, consumerized workforce," said Absalom. "Nowhere is this clearer than in the BYOA [bring your own app] data. If employees are sourcing their own applications to do their job, then IT is not delivering the right tools or a good enough user experience for its employees."

Adrian Drury, an analyst in the Ovum consumer impact group, told delegates at the London conference that BYOX is a trend no company can afford to ignore. "You should assume there is a lot of BYOD activity in your business that you simply do not know about. And if you take a 'King Canute'-type of approach, you will drive it underground and lose control," he said, referring to the Norwegian king who set his throne by the sea and commanded the tide to recede.

At the event, Ovum gave BYOD achievement awards to University College London Hospital, SAP and legal firm Irell & Manella for the internal BYOD programs they've developed.

The Ovum survey queried 4,371 workers in 19 countries employed at companies with a minimum of 50 people.