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November 28, 2012

IT departments are ignoring the BYOD trend: Ovum

Many companies are either unaware or are actively ignoring the use of personal devices at work, report says

By Steve Evans

iPhone 5

Nearly one-third of IT departments are turning a blind eye to employees bringing their own devices into work, according to new research from analyst house Ovum.

The report also revealed that nearly one-fifth of IT departments are unaware of the BYOD trend in their own organisation.

Over half (57.1%) of the full-time workers quizzed by Ovum said they engage in some form of BYOD. Worryingly of those who bring their own devices to work, 28.4% said their IT department actively ignores the fact it is happening.

That raises serious questions about security practices at the companies as turning a blind eye to it means the IT department will not be in a position to act if something happens to the device and sensitive corporate information is compromised. It could also mean a company fails to meet regulations or legislation, depending on which country it operates in.

In addition to those IT departments who ignore BYOD, Ovum’s report states 17.7% of respondents said their IT department doesn’t even know that workers are brining their own device.

Richard Absalom, consumer impact IT analyst at Ovum, said far too much BYOD activity is being left unmanaged.

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"Unmanaged BYOD creates a great data security risk, and the implications of losing sensitive data via a personally owned device can be dire from financial, reputational and legal perspectives," he said.

"Every business must understand the behaviour of its own employees, which, as we have seen, is likely to be influenced by its location, and manage it according to its risk profile," said Absalom.

Interestingly the report found that the BYOD trend was much stronger in emerging markets than in more mature markets. Of the 57.1% bringing their own devices, 75% are from markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, UAE and Malaysia.

Absalom says this could be because workers in mature markets are stricter about keeping their work and personal life separate.

He said: "Employees in high-growth, emerging economies are demonstrating a more flexible attitude to working hours, and are happy to use their own devices for work. However, in mature markets, employees have settled into comfortable patterns of working behaviour and are more precious about the separation of their work and personal domains."

Absalom believes this could benefit businesses in those emerging markets in the years to come. "This bifurcation in behaviour will shape not just future patterns of enterprise mobility in high-growth markets compared to mature markets, but also dictate which markets, structurally, are going to benefit most from this revolution in how and where we work," he said.

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