Companies not keeping up with iworker employees

Unisys IDC survey shows companies not ready for use of consumer devices and applications for business

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Companies not keeping up with iworker employees The dual survey found that businesses are not aware of employees' use of consumer devices and applications for work purposes.
By  Mark Sutton Published  June 29, 2010

Companies are ill-prepared for the wealth of consumer devices being used for business purposes by their employees, according to new research by IDC and Unisys.

Two Unisys-sponsored surveys showed that an increasing number of information workers are blurring the lines between work and home in their use of devices and applications, resulting in poor support and poor security in corporations.

The studies surveyed 2,820 workers in ten countries, and 650 global IT decision makers, and found a growing gap between what employees are doing with technology for work, and what employers and IT departments think they are doing.

"This research raises important questions as to how well prepared today's organizations are to weather the tsunami of consumer technologies and products flooding into the workplace and to capitalize on new ways of doing business, connecting with customers, and attracting future workers," said Sam Gross, vice president, Global IT Outsourcing Solutions, Unisys.

"We are at an inflection point in the history of global computing, as important as the invention of the personal computer and the Web," Gross added. "The ‘consumerization of IT' revolution is being driven not top-down by corporate IT departments, but by tech-savvy iWorkers who are hungry for information and rich with ideas on new ways to innovate, serve customers, and operate more efficiently. Our research indicates that organizations have miles to go to get ready for this wave and risk being left behind as fresh competitors exploit the consumer IT tidal wave and upend old business and IT models."

The research found that 95% of information workers use at least one device they have purchased themselves for work, with around 50% using devices for both work and personal use, with no distinction between work and personal data.

iWorkers are using other forms of communication and online applications for business, with 40% of iWorkers surveyed using instant messaging and text messaging for business and nearly a quarter using blogs and professional online communities for business purposes.

iWorkers also report using an average of four consumer devices and multiple third-party applications, such as social networking sites, in the course of their day.

Despite this uptake of devices and media, the survey of IT decision makers showed a lack of awareness about the activities of iWorkers, with iWorkers using smartphones, laptops and mobile phones for business at almost twice the rate reported by employers. Fewer than half of employers allow iWorkers to access enterprise applications via smartphones, and only 30% of companies said they are likely to implement an allowance program for employees to buy their own devices, within the next two years.

The iWorkers surveyed gave below average ratings for the IT support they receive from their organisations for consumer devices, and nearly half gave their organisations extremely low marks for uptake of consumer devices and social networks with enterprise applications, despite the fact that the vast majority of enterprises say they are increasing their use of such channels.

The survey also showed a gap between the levels of what employees think they are allowed to do with corporate IT resources, compared to what employers say they are allowed to do, with 69% of iWorkers believing they are allowed to access non-work related websites through work, compared to 44% of employers saying this is the case, and 52% of iWorkers believing they can store personal files on corporate resources, against only 37% of employers who report this to be allowed.

John Gantz, chief research officer and senior vice president, IDC commented: "The research shows a profound disconnect between what iWorkers are doing with consumer technologies in the enterprise and what IT leaders believe is happening in their organizations. As the old adage goes, you cannot manage what you don't measure. IT leaders cannot effectively secure, manage or plan for the future without an accurate understanding of the trend and its implications. The ‘consumerization of IT' trend will turn existing IT and business models on their heads, and the time to get ready is now."

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