Riding the BYOD wave

IT must be an enabler of productivity and collaboration

A new report from Juniper Research predicts that the number of employee-owned mobile devices used in the enterprise will top 1 billion by 2018. That’s 35% “of the total installed base of consumer-owned tablets and smartphones,” Juniper says.

The raw number (1 billion) is noteworthy, but the real mind-blower to me is the forecast that more than a third of all consumer-owned tablets and smartphones will be used in the enterprise.

I don’t know whether Juniper was able to determine what percentage of mobile device owners actually have jobs, but in my household, 75% of mobile device owners are employed. If we ballpark the percentage of device owners that don’t work (teenagers, college students and non-employed adults) at 20%, then that 35% figure predicted by Juniper would mean that nearly half of all consumer-owned tablets and smartphones will be used in the workplace by 2018. Remember, the iPhone didn’t come out until 2007. The consumerization of IT in the enterprise, indeed.

Enterprises slow to accept BYOD need to come to terms with reality: Smartphones and tablets are productivity tools, not time and money wasters. OK, they can be those things too, but in the big picture BYOD is a net asset for most enterprises. Whatever the real (and perceived) security risks, the biggest risk of all for enterprises today is failing to leverage emerging technologies — not just mobile, but cloud, collaboration tools and social media.

BYOD and related technologies are a massive wave. Yet it seems as if, instead of learning to ride that wave, many IT decision makers still are trying to control the ocean. That’s certainly one explanation for why BYOD still is in its relatively early stages. So how do you persuade reluctant IT departments to get on their surfboards?

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