Exponential growth in the use of smart devices has led to significant and increased demand for bandwidth across 84 per cent of organizations surveyed globally, according to new research commissioned by BT and Cisco. More than half (56 per cent) of IT managers have also noticed a resulting performance decline in some applications, which impacts negatively the productivity gains promised by smart devices. Almost half (46 per cent) of workers with Wi-Fi access in their office have experienced delays logging on or accessing an application, while 39 per cent have noticed they are running more slowly now than before.
The research, which surveyed attitudes towards workers' use of their own smart devices (laptops, tablets and smartphones) in 13 regions, reveals 76 per cent believe their organizations need to take further steps to fulfill the potential productivity gains that smart devices offer. Increased use of cloud solutions (33 per cent), greater use of specialist software (32 per cent) and greater support for smart device users (32 per cent) are what is needed to seize the opportunity.
Ubiquitous Wi-Fi access over a better network is key to the development of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), but 45 per cent of employees still don't have wireless access to their corporate networks. Of those workers currently without Wi-Fi access in their company, over two thirds (68 per cent) believe it would have a positive impact on their work, for example, it would make them more efficient and productive (31 per cent), help them work more flexibly (30 per cent) and stay in-touch (26 per cent).
The findings also indicate that network capacity is not the only challenge holding back benefits of BYOD. Despite overwhelming positivity among IT managers – 84 per cent think adopting a BYOD policy confers a competitive advantage – the research also highlights a lack of progress in adopting or articulating a consistent policy across wired, wireless and Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Trust in employees continues to play a large role in whether companies permit BYOD. Just over a quarter (26 per cent) of IT managers think that all workers understand their access requirements or permissions for their mobile devices. This figure has increased from 19 per cent in 2012, pointing to an increase in confidence. Yet only 26 per cent of employees that use a personal device for work recognise that this presents a risk to company security, suggesting IT managers are nervous with some justification.
Neil Sutton, VP Global Portfolio, BT Global Services, said: "With networks creaking under the demands of smart devices and more than three quarters, (76 per cent) of users convinced that their organization needs to step up to the opportunity, it's clear that enabling BYOD in its many forms is about much more than simply cool devices and a mobile contract. Organizations of all sizes need to consider elements of device compatibility, security, Wi-Fi, network, application performance, with a focus on driving costs down.
"Behind every great device you need a great performing network. With the right control and connectivity you can deliver a great user experience on any device. Network support companies (like The Computing Center) are working with more and more customers to understand and implement this coming of age of consumerisation and turn it to business advantage, reliably, securely and cost effectively."
Gordon Thomson, Director, Enterprise Networks, EMEAR, Cisco, said: "We implemented a BYOD model internally, starting with mobile phones in 2009, and have managed to lower our costs per employee by 25 per cent. Over the last few years, we have added 82 per cent more devices to our base with 28 per cent more users. Businesses looking to deploy a BYOD program should look at a comprehensive BYOD plan and think beyond just the device and operating system, but about the services delivered to that device, user experience and productivity gains."
Adrian Drury, practice leader, Consumer Impact IT, Ovum said: "The growth in employee smartphone and tablet ownership is changing the ways we work. Implementing a BYOD policy is about enabling employees to work more flexibly, and be more productive.
"Draconian Wi-Fi access limitations or failure to invest in sufficient Wi-Fi coverage is a fast way to ensure a poor employee experience. However, this is not a mandate for open networks. Businesses still need to ensure that network security policies are maintained, and ideally they should take an integrated approach to network access control, device management and application management."
About the research
This research was undertaken by Vanson Bourne for BT Global Services and Cisco in May 2013. 2,200 interviews were carried out with IT decision makers and office workers in medium to enterprise size organisations across 13 regions – UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Benelux, Turkey, USA, Brazil, China, India, Singapore and UAE – and in a range of sectors – Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), finance, logistics, retail, healthcare, energy, pharmaceutical and government. A summary of the results can be downloaded from www.bt.com/beyondyourdevice.