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IT pros are hugely underestimating numbers in terms of bring-your-own-app

New research has shown that IT professionals are significantly underestimating the number of employees using their own apps in the workplace, in what's known as BYOA or bring-your-own-app.

A survey, conducted by LogMeIn and Edge Strategies, which looked at employee introduced cloud-based apps (from Dropbox and Google Drive, through Skype and Evernote) in the UK and Ireland, as well as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, produced some illuminating numbers.

60 per cent of those surveyed in the UK and Ireland (including internal and outsourced IT staff, and non-IT business professionals) said that there was "active use" of employee introduced apps in their business – and on average, the number of such apps was estimated to be 3.2 per company.

However, the survey found that the actual number – using data collected by app discovery technology, drawn from similar businesses – of such actively used apps was more like 21 per organisation, more than six times what IT pros believed. That's quite a disparity, and a worry in terms of security.

BYOA, like BYOD, is a growing phenomenon across the world, with the research finding that 70 per cent of organisations in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand reporting BYOA within their business (with penetration in the UK slightly less than that figure). 42 per cent believed that bring-your-own-app will become still more prevalent in the future.

SMBs were more likely to have BYOA within their walls, and 81 per cent of firms with between 11 and 100 staff said they had employees using their own apps in the workplace.

And again, another concern on the security front is the amount of those who said the IT department was consulted when it came to BYOA. 68 per cent of IT pros said they were consulted by staff, but when employees were questioned, only 36 per cent said they informed IT before introducing cloud-based apps into the workplace. Many of the apps used are free and unmanaged versions, too – 73 per cent of them in the case of file sharing apps, and 47 per cent in terms of productivity apps.

W. Sean Ford, CMO of LogMeIn, commented: "The rapid rise of cloud offerings – along with the consumerisation of IT – is forcing major changes to the way IT operates, and calling into question IT's overall relevance in today's employee empowered workplace. The critical security and management requirements remain IT's primary mandate, and yet IT is increasingly outside of the loop when it comes to app selection and worse, the way data is stored and shared across these apps."

He further warned: "We believe that the role of IT needs to be fundamentally redefined if IT professionals want to regain their strategic voice, and this means reinventing the way they approach the management of apps, devices and data in the BYO era."