BYOD Trend Could Open Door to More iPhones, iPads in Workplace

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The latest workplace trend is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), in which employees bring their own smartphone or tablet to work and use that to get their jobs done. That has produced mixed feelings among, however: 64 percent of IT managers surveyed by Absolute Software felt the BYOD trend was risky, according to a BBC News story.

That horse may have long since left the barn and could be in another state by now, though: a Cisco survey found that 48 percent of IT managers’ companies would never allow employees to bring their own devices, but 57 percent admitted it was happening without consent anyway, and 51 percent said the number of employees doing so was on the rise.

Cisco has a BYOD program for its employees, and Ian Foddering, Cisco CTO in the UK, said such a policy is imperative. “We’ve been in the interesting position for the last 12-18 months,” he told the BBC. “I look at what our clients are doing. Up until recently they’ve been deciding whether to block it or embrace it.

“Beforehand most people were ignoring it [but now] you’ll certainly find the more progressive organizations have embraced it.”

At Cisco, employees can use company-issued laptops and smartphones or purchase their own. However, they won’t get IT support if they choose a Mac, although an informal internal employee network of Mac users supports each other, something Mr. Foddering says they prefer anyway.

He also noted that Cisco’s research found that some employees would even take a lower-paying job if they could bring their own device, rather than a higher-paying one with no choice. Cisco found that, around the world, 40 percent of college students and 45 percent of employees would make such a choice.

Consumerizing IT

Over at virtualization specialist VMware, Joe Baguley pointed to “the consumerization of IT” as a driver of this trend, and not just among younger employees. He said: “Technology is getting to more and more people, like my parents and my wife who are now using IT more than ever before and seeing what’s possible … It’s consumerization of the users, with IT departments struggling to keep up.”

Expressing the long-term view, Phil Lieberman of Lieberman Software saw certain advantages to be gained: “I guess that many chief information officers who approve employee device usage see this as a nice way to make their bonuses by further reducing costs, while the potential liabilities are above their pay grades.

“Perhaps corporate management believes that this is simply a way to get more out of their employees - a type of electronic leash - without having to pay the cost of the devices or service; all without considering the legal consequences.”

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