By 2016, 57% of Smartphone Owners Will Use Their Own Device at Work: Forrester

According to Ms. Brownlee Thomas, principal analyst at Forrester, the impact of mobility on the business practices of organizations will be as important as those caused by Internet.

She stated that the needs related to mobile devices and applications varied among groups of employees within an organization. Information workers are supported by the IT department and the performers of tasks have their mobile devices and applications dedicated. On the other hand, the workers concerned can use their mobile devices to work without formal IT support, while “nonconformists” select, purchase, and use their own equipment and apps for the job.

In parallel, policymakers, employees and IT managers of an organization have different requirements in terms of mobility. For example, these people prefer respectively productive phones, trendy smartphones, and standardized equipment.

Ms. Thomas emphasized that the provision, planning, operation, and management of information technology in organizations became more complicated due to consumerization of IT. Employees, who are interested in a personal way to devices that may be linked to the web, cloud computing, software and online services consumer, social networks, and multimedia content would like that their employers share those interests.

Accordingly, she noted that the inclusion of personal devices for work—BYOD or bring your own device—will be part of the strategy of organizations dealing with the consumerization of IT. Forrester Research predicts that by 2016, 350 million employees worldwide would use smartphones, but that 200 million of whom will use their personal devices for work.

“8% of decision makers in technology expect that a BYOD program will be implemented by the end of 2012, while 18% say they have established a strategy related to the presence of devices personnel within their organizations,” said Ms. Thomas.

Citing another survey in Canada, she pointed out that organizations at various levels were already supporting various mobile operating systems for the delivery of mail to their employees and calendars, some commercial applications for collaboration or virtual private network access. Also, 58% of these same policy makers expected to allow employees to use their own phone will evolved to work in 2012 and 15% were considering a similar form of permission for personal computers.

“Globally, 25% of devices used by employees for work are smartphones or tablet computers. Also, 37% of mobile devices and personal computers that are used by employees for work are not in the Windows environment,” said Ms. Thomas.

However, the level of support for employees’ personal mobile devices varies from one organization to another and from one industry to another. In a 2011 Forrester survey of North America with IT decision makers, 18% of companies in manufacturing, 15% of companies in financial services and insurance, and 12% of public sector organizations and the health sector have said that all types of mobile devices from their employees were officially supported by the IT department.

On the other hand, 8% of companies in manufacturing, 9% of companies in financial services and insurance, and 12% of public sector organizations and the health sector have shown only limited support was provided informally for some types of mobile employees. However, 21% of companies in manufacturing, 30% of companies in financial services and insurance, and 29% of public sector companies and the health sector have indicated that no support was provided for mobile employees.

Finally, 8% of companies in manufacturing, 14% of companies in financial services and insurance and 6% of public sector organizations and the health sector have indicated that the use of mobile devices personnel was prohibited explicitly in their policies related to IT.

Ms. Thomas argues that the evolution of communication technologies and the consumerization of mobile devices will create a whole new challenge of a technological nature within organizations. The analyst confirmed that convergence was the next step in communications, with an evolution in terms of voice and collaboration. “Mobility is a central convergence initiative,” she affirmed.

She said the survey of IT decision makers of Canadian businesses revealed that 29% of organizations had implemented or realized in 2011 a pilot project of convergence of communications and 7% planned to achieve convergence in next twelve months.

Moreover, 17% of organizations surveyed said they are active in mobile convergence. “26% of organizations surveyed said that the lack of seamless integration of multiple devices was a great challenge in mobile convergence. Also, 21% of respondents said that the lack of a feature phone by employees was a significant challenge,” Ms. Thomas explained.

She offered some solutions that organizations need to consider when projects converged communications through mobile devices, such as including the adoption of a single number, the standardization of functions on all technological devices for employees, and the use of dual-mode devices that switch to a wireless network to a LAN.

Photo: Cult of Mac