A year after initial Unisys Corporation research showed that enterprise IT departments were unprepared for the rapidly growing usage of consumer technologies in the workplace, a Unisys-sponsored follow-on study reveals that this "consumerization gap" may be widening.
The study, conducted for Unisys by International Data Corp. (IDC), indicates that IT departments see business value in the consumerization of IT trend and are committed to supporting it, but are hamstrung by security and support issues and a growing workload.
"The good news from the new research is that, in contrast to last year, IT executives are recognizing that the consumerization of IT trend is real and inevitable," said Fred Dillman, Unisys chief technology officer. "However, they appear to be frozen by the magnitude of issues created by the rapidly growing usage of consumer technologies within the enterprise. Worse, the research reveals that IT executives and departments are not taking proactive steps to ready their organizations and applications to serve the needs of increasingly mobile customers and take full advantage of emerging growth opportunities in the marketplace."
Key Findings from iWorker Survey: Desire for Mobility is Driving Growing Use of Consumer Devices and Apps in Workplace
The 2011 research is based on responses from two separate but related surveys conducted in nine countries. One study surveyed nearly 2,660 information workers ("iWorkers") within organizations, while the second study polled some 560 IT department executives and managers. The surveys were conducted in nine countries worldwide.
The global results show that iWorkers are bringing personal devices into the enterprise at an increasing rate. In fact, 40 percent of the devices they use to access business applications are personally owned a 10-percentage-point increase from last year.
Usage of social media applications, blogging, and microblogging in the enterprise is also on the rise. The Unisys-sponsored research shows that usage of Facebook and MySpace for business purposes has more than doubled over the past year (20 percent of respondents in 2011 vs. 8 percent in 2010). The number of iWorkers using blogs, wikis, forums and message boards on the job is up nearly 50 percent (33 percent of respondents vs. 23 percent in 2010), as is usage of Twitter and other microblogging tools for work (13 percent of respondents vs. 9 percent in 2010). Business usage of LinkedIn, Plaxo and similar applications has also grown substantially (31 percent of respondents vs. 23 percent in 2010).
The increasing penetration of consumer technology in the enterprise is being driven by a desire for mobility. Fifty-three percent of iWorkers surveyed say that mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets are their most critical devices for doing work, up from 44 percent in 2010. In addition, 65 percent of iWorkers say that a mobile device will be their most critical work device in 2012. Seven percent of iWorkers say that the Apple iPad will be the most critical device for doing work in 2012.
Key Findings from IT Survey: Executives Recognize the Trend, but Are Falling Further Behind in Consumerization Race
Three quarters of IT executives surveyed say that company policies allowing personal devices increase employee morale and 72 percent say that employees who bring consumer devices into the workplace are more productive.
Despite this growing awareness, however, the research found that IT departments are falling further behind in the consumerization race occurring within their organizations.
iWorkers report using smart mobile devices for business purposes at twice the rate that IT executives believe to be the case (69 percent usage reported by iWorkers vs. 34 percent usage reported by IT executives). In addition, 44 percent of iWorkers report using social networks and communities for customer communication, while only 28 percent of employers believe that to be the case.
From a support perspective, IT executives give their organizations poor scores for supporting consumer devices and applications in the workplace, rating themselves only 2.9 on a 1.0-to-5.0 scale. Compared to 2010, IT respondents rate themselves lower in support for employee-owned smartphones and tablets, social applications and integration of social apps with enterprise applications.
IT departments also seem to be falling further behind in terms of readying their organizations to serve new generations of mobile, tech-savvy consumers. Only 6 percent of IT decision-makers surveyed report that their organization has modernized customer-facing applications to work with mobile devices, and 89 percent report that they have no plans to do so over the next year.
When asked what are the greatest barriers to enabling employees to use personal devices at work, 83 percent of IT respondents cite "security concerns" and 56 percent say "viruses from social networks such as Facebook."
Ironically, however, IT respondents indicate that they now do less than they did in 2010 to secure mobile devices in several areas, including publication of social media guidelines (46 percent vs. 60 percent), required employee training (52 percent vs. 64 percent), usage of complex passwords (48 percent vs. 57 percent) and single sign-on (52 percent vs. 73 percent).
Constrained resources also appear to be a barrier: 80 percent of IT respondents say that their department workload is increasing due to consumerization. They report that nearly 60 percent of the time, employees encountering a problem with a personal device used for business will contact the IT department for help rather than troubleshoot the problem themselves or contact the technology provider.
From a governance perspective, 87 percent of IT respondents report that they follow the old model of purchasing standard mobile devices for employees and paying usage charges. However, more than half of iWorkers surveyed report that they have purchased their own consumer devices for work purposes without employer reimbursement, including 56 percent of Android phone users,
53 percent of iPhone users and 51 percent of iPad users. Only 15 percent of Android users, 13 percent of iPhone users and 14 percent of iPad users report that their employers bought the device for them.
Overall, 70 percent of the IT executives surveyed rated their organizations as late or "last to use" adopters of new technology.
"This new research indicates that too many IT executives are acting as custodians of the status quo, not as the innovators they need to be for their enterprises to benefit fully from consumerization of IT," said Frank Gens, chief analyst, IDC. "IT needs to make a concerted effort to gain better visibility into the consumer devices and social applications employees actually want to use for work and devise smart, flexible policies for managing and securing those technologies. If IT executives can do that, they'll find that consumerization of IT opens up a whole new range of opportunities for their business."