Many IT managers would prefer to believe that the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon (a) does not really exist, or (b) can be safely ignored. These people would be advised to check their server logs, to see exactly what is connecting to their networks. They might be in for a surprise.
While their device might not have been purchased with business in mind, a recent readership survey by Computing shows that the vast majority of employees with smartphones or tablets are using them for activities that could include checking company emails, transferring documents to and from the network and even utilising applications.
Eighty-four per cent of employees with a smartphone use their device for business, while almost 70 per cent of those who use tablet computers also utilising them for work related activities.
Smartphones are more likely to be used by employees for business-related issues, with over 50 per cent of responses to the Computing survey stating more than half their mobile usage time is spent on business issues, as the figure below shows.
Tablet usage for business is less common, with 29 per cent of employees not using it for their job at all, but one in five suggested they spent more than 70 per cent of their time using their tablet for work-related issues.
The rise of BYOD is reflected in the survey: 36 per cent of respondents own their smartphone (with a similar figure for tablets), as opposed to 39 per cent who use a smartphone provided by their company. One in 10 said they use both.
The increase in employees using their own tablets is particularly interesting, given that over one-half of companies don't provide them for staff at all. Given the numbers who say they use tablets for work, this indicates how employees may be circumventing company policy to use their own devices for work.
With employees using their own tablets and smartphones for business more than ever – even councils and NHS trusts are trialling the technology – companies need to implement new security measures. An enforced password policy is the most common means of this, with 67 per cent of businesses applying this, which still means potentially one in three devices aren't password protected. Corporate-wide acceptable use policies and VPNs are the other two most common forms of security.
Astonishingly, 15 per cent of respondents weren't aware of any security measures for tablets and smartphones. More companies will need to introduce BYOD security protocols in future, because if there's one conclusion from the study, it is this: just as musicians prefer to play their own instruments, more and more employees want to use their own devices.
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A discussion of the "risk perception gap", its implications and how it can be closed