Feature Article

April 10, 2013

New CompTIA Survey: Untangling the Tangled BYOD World

CompTIA, a not-for-profit trade association focused on advancing the global interests of IT professionals and companies, has just released its second annual “Trends in Enterprise Mobility” report. The research survey, conducted in February 2013, utilized an online panel of 502 IT and business executives directly involved in setting or executing mobility policies and processes within their organizations. 

It’s fairly detailed, spanning 32 pages and covering the following major topics:

  • Workforce Needs and Device Provisioning
  • Mobility Drivers and Strategies
  • Challenges in Building Mobility Solutions

Before taking a look at some the issues uncovered by the report (there are many more pieces to it than we can cover), let’s turn to an interesting diagram – which demonstrates the rather complex nature of enterprise mobility:

As this diagram makes exceedingly clear, companies that want to maximize mobile-driven economic and productivity benefits must clearly understand that mobility isn’t about the “devices.” In fact, it is safe to say that the devices themselves – though situated at the center of the diagram, are the least important pieces of the enterprise mobility web. In fact, the areas labeled as private and public clouds extend the diagram in potentially unknown ways, adding to management complexity.

Seth Robinson, director, technology analysis at CompTIA puts it this way: “Rather than focus on the device level, companies will need to assess the specific needs of their workforce and match the device. For maximum benefit, workflow changes will need to be considered prior to evaluating workforce needs. But this is not a trivial matter and companies will need to weigh the cost of operational disruption and change management against the potential advantages.”

As one would expect to be the case in today’s BYOD-driven enterprise world, the majority of surveyed companies in the CompTIA study allow their employees to bring their own mobile devices to work. However, a more accurate way to label the trend is to call it a “hybrid BYOD” world. The survey finds that what is prevalent is a mix of corporate-liable and individual-liable devices - 58 percent of companies reported this to be the case. In fact, as the chart below shows, BYOD as it is commonly understood, really represents no more than eight percent of the enterprise workforce population.

For that 58 percent of companies that provide at least some devices to employees there are two key reasons for doing so:

  • To standardize and consolidate IT support, cited by 39 percent of firms.
  • Because it is more cost effective to provide devices rather than a stipend, cited by 31 percent.

“This reasoning is contrary to the school of thought suggesting that BYOD can be a cost-savings move,” Robinson further notes. “Best practices will emerge that may change the cost dynamics, but BYOD may be similar to cloud computing in that companies may find other compelling reasons beyond cost savings to pursue the strategy.”

The Mobile Ecosystem has Many Parts

The first diagram above also suggests that the sort of tight control over the entire end to end IT ecosystem that so many IT people used to have is now only something to be remembered with fondness for the old days. Rather, IT architects and administrators must now contend with devices that often serve multiple purposes and connect to a variety of third-party systems. Many parties can now influence mobile function and workflow – as well as non-mobile function and workflow. Furthermore, companies are beginning to look towards more advanced uses of mobility, such as geolocation, omnichannel retailing, and machine to machine (M2M) systems.

Amidst all of these moving parts, according to the report the top two drivers for mobility adoption within the enterprise are not surprising:

  • 62 percent of companies say they are driven by productivity gains.
  • 59 percent say they are driven by employee flexibility.

Various other drivers are highlighted in the chart below.

Relative to overall BYOD, the survey finds that 24 percent of companies now report having a formal mobility policy in place – which is up only two percent over the past year. The good news (although to be clear this should already be the case for many more companies than is currently the case) is that the number of companies that plan to build a formal policy has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent over the last year.

Companies are reporting that they now see significant increases across the board with regard to the departments involved in building policy. This is good news of sorts as it suggests that a holistic view towards developing mobile practices is emerging.

Finally, and this is certainly not a surprise, most companies report security as both a growing and ongoing concern. Interesting, the survey finds that:

  • Only 54 percent of executives cite security as an issue.
  • Less surprisingly, 64 percent of IT finds security to be a major issue.
  • Most surprisingly, 65 percent of line of business people – who are the key drivers of mobility applications within the enterprise, are in fact very concerned with security.

The general consensus has always reversed these findings – typically line of business people are much less concerned with security, and view the substantial gains in productivity and strategic advantages far outweigh security issues; and typically it is supposed to be IT that looks to rein them in. The CompTIA survey however strongly suggests that the business folks understand the issues related to security. We admit we are somewhat surprised by these results.

Finally, the survey also takes a look at the key issues enterprises face in ensuring a smooth process of mobile adoption – these are the key causes behind tangled enterprise mobile efforts, and they are shown in the chart below.

As we noted early on, we are only skimming the surface of the report here, though we believe we’ve managed to capture the gist of what the report uncovers relative to that “tangled” web of enterprise mobility. Understanding the issues highlighted fully in the report will go a long way towards untangling all of your enterprise mobility efforts. The CompTIA report is well worth a full read.

Edited by Braden Becker

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