Ovum: Ignore BYOD and lose control of your corporate data

Ovum today revealed the results of its 2013 multi-market bring-your-own-anything (BYOX) survey at BYOX World Forum in London.

Richard Absalom, consumer impact technology analyst at Ovum, presented a very clear message in the opening keynote. He announced that the BYOX trend looks to be increasing its presence, as almost 70 per cent of smart device-owning employees now use their personal phones or tablets to access company data.

The industry analyst firm's study incorporated the responses of 4,371 full-time employees of organisations with over 50 members of staff, across 19 different countries. Some 67 per cent of smartphone-owning workers surveyed admitted using their own device for work purposes, with nearly 21 per cent of these doing so despite the presence of anti-BYOD policies and 15.4 per cent of these admit they BYOD without the IT department's knowledge. Similarly, the number of tablet owners using their device at work lies at 69.7 per cent.

The personal tablet market's rapid expansion, coupled with the fact that personal tablet ownership among full-time employees has risen from 28.4 per cent to 44.5 per cent over the last year, makes Ovum believe that the BYOD phenomenon will not only linger but grow. And the firm recommends business leaders quickly adapt to this change with clear strategies.

"Trying to stand in the path of consumerised mobility is likely to be a damaging and futile exercise," said Absalom. "We believe businesses are better served by exploiting this behaviour to increase employee engagement and productivity, and promote the benefits of enterprise mobility."

The overall percentage of employees (including those that don't own a tablet or smartphone) using personal smartphones or tablets for work activities has remained steady, at 56.8 per cent this year, from 57.1 per cent in 2012.

Ovum's study also found that BYOD is not only growing, but transforming into bring-your-own-application (BYOA), which is on the rise. The analysts reported that email and calendars remain the most used applications on both corporately-provisioned and personal devices, but the use of new-generation cloud productivity apps - such as for file synching and sharing, IM, VoIP and enterprise social networking - is becoming increasingly widespread.

Perhaps of greater concern to business leaders is Ovum's discovery that more and more employees are sourcing these types of app independently, rather than through managed corporate means.

Ovum's figures state that, of the more than 4,300 employees surveyed, 22.1 per cent admitted to sourcing their own file sync and sharing apps, 30.7 per cent found their own IM/VoIP apps, and 25.6 per cent found their own enterprise social networking apps. What's more, 57.4 per cent of the subjects said that they primarily use these self-sourced file sync and share apps to share files between their own devices, rather than with other colleagues.

"The thread that runs through all of the data is that IT is not keeping up with the changing demands and behaviour patterns of the new mobilised, consumerised workforce. Nowhere is this clearer than in the BYOA data. If employees are sourcing their own applications to do their job, then IT is not delivering the right tools or a good enough user experience for its employees," concluded Absalom.

Ovum warned that if businesses continue to ignore the presence of BYOX, they risk not only being bowled over by the trend, but losing control of their own data in the process. The research firm first and foremost recommends implementing a clear BYOD policy in the workplace.