Tablets, Web Apps Lead 'Consumerization' Of IT

Forrester Research finds much less support for allowing employees to bring their own PCs to work.
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Corporate use of technologies that employees have embraced at home is expected to grow rapidly as companies move out of early-stage adoption, a research firm said.

The so-called "consumerization of IT," defined as company adoption of technologies that started in the consumer market, is most apparent with tablets and Web-based applications, Forrester Research said in a report released Wednesday. Less dramatic is corporate support of employees who choose their own PC model and configuration.

The tablet market, jumpstarted last April when Apple released the iPad, has drawn lots of attention from corporate IT departments. Forrester's survey of IT infrastructure decision-makers in 1,000 enterprises and 1,200 small and midsize businesses (SMBs) found 4% implementing touchscreen tablets. That's a "remarkable number," given that the survey was conducted three months after the iPad hit the market, Forrester said.

Even more interesting to Forrester was the finding that 17% of enterprises surveyed reported testing tablets, almost twice the level of SMBs. "This strong adoption and interest indicates that commercial adoption of tablets will grow quickly, propelled by formal IT adoption and not just personal devices being brought to work," the report, authored by Forrester analyst Frank Gillett, said.

Use of Web-based apps, as opposed to native client software, is also growing rapidly in companies. Forrester found that 82% of the IT decision-makers it polled expect to see a 5% or more increase in the number of Web apps used on their companies' PCs over the next two years.

At the same time, more than half of the companies represented in the survey expect the number of native PC software applications to stay flat or grow, rather than decline. That finding is an indication that Web-based apps are being used alongside native software, not necessarily replacing it.

Respondents to Forrester's survey were less enthusiastic about the so-called "bring-your-own-PC" approach. Adoption of the deployment model was a mere 2% of the companies represented, including those implementing or piloting the alternative to an employer-supplied PC.

Fully 65% of the businesses interested in the BYOPC model reported that the top reason for adoption was to satisfy employees who prefer their own computers. The second most popular reason was to save money, which was listed by 58% of the companies.

The leading concern with BYOPC was reduced security, cited by about 70% of the respondents. That number was twice the second most common concern: compatibility with existing infrastructure. "This trend will move forward much more slowly than touchscreen tablet adoption," said the report, "Navigating The Shifts In Computing Infrastructure Markets."