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Unisys study says organisations not managing consumerisation of IT in workplace

Posted on 16-Sep-2011 09:31 | Filed under: News

The second annual Consumerisation of IT study, conducted for Unisys by International Data Corp. (IDC), shows that the use of consumer-style technology, such as smartphones, tablets and social media, by information workers (iWorkers) in New Zealand workplaces is accelerating.

In 2011, 14 percent of Kiwi workers say they use iPhones for work purposes (up from 2 percent in 2010), and 13 percent use iPads and other tablets. Similarly, employees report much increased use of social media at work, with 9 percent using Twitter, up from 3 percent last year. In addition, 20 percent use Facebook or MySpace and 23 percent use LinkedIn and Plaxo – rising from 6 percent and 11 percent, respectively, in 2010.

However, the Unisys-sponsored research shows that the trend continues to be driven by employees, and that the majority of large organisations have not yet implemented programmes to proactively manage, support, secure and leverage these technologies due to limited resources and the scope of end-user demands.

“By not taking quick action to proactively manage the growth of mobile technologies and social media in the workplace, many large organisations are letting change happen to them, rather than driving the use of consumer technology to their advantage,” said Mr Brett Hodgson, managing director, Unisys New Zealand. “Employers are today more aware of the potential impact – both benefits and challenges – of the consumerisation of IT than they were a year ago. The delay in action appears to be driven by a fear of perceived security risks and increased demand on IT resources compounded by no clear plan of what challenges to address first. However, the longer they wait, the harder it will be to turn the trend to their advantage.”

New Zealand was one of nine countries surveyed as part of the 2011 Unisys-sponsored global research study. The research is based on responses from two separate but related surveys. The New Zealand studies surveyed, respectively, 200 employees within organisations and 25 IT department executives and managers.

The research findings suggest that the acceleration in employee use of consumer-style devices is driven by the desire for greater mobility. For example, while 59 percent of Kiwi iWorkers surveyed say that desktop systems are now their most critical business devices, only 42 percent say that that will still be the case in 2012. Similarly, 7 percent expect that their iPads or other tablets will be their most critical business devices in 12 months time (compared to none currently). Similarly, 10 percent expect that iPhones or other smartphones will be their most critical business devices in 2012, compared to 5 percent currently.

The Unisys research revealed disconnects between what devices and social media New Zealand employees say they use for work purposes and what employers think they are using. Employees consistently reported higher usage of iPads, other brands of tablets, iPhones and social media at work than employers thought - by up to two times in the case of iPads. This suggests that employees are embracing Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT), but that much of it is unofficial.

For instance, while 37 percent of employees say they use social media for employee communication, employers say only 17 percent of their workers do so.

Kiwi employers see benefits in allowing employees to participate in BYOT initiatives, with 27 percent saying it would free IT organisations from hardware support, 12 percent saying such a policy would cut costs for the organisation and 61 percent saying it would improve employee satisfaction and productivity. Nearly one quarter (23 percent) of New Zealand employers are considering introducing a discount or stipend scheme in the next 12 months to assist employees in purchasing their own devices.

About half of the smartphones and 44 percent of tablets that New Zealand employees use for business purposes are self-purchased, with the employee also paying all usage charges.

New Zealand employers see the consumerisation trend as inevitable, with 88 percent saying they think tablet devices will become an integral part of the business. They also acknowledge that consumer technology offers significant benefits, with 92 percent of respondents saying that it increases morale and 92 percent saying it makes employees more productive.

However, employers see a number of barriers to adopting an official BYOT program, with 87 percent citing security concerns, 68 percent citing viruses from social networks and 53 percent citing challenges in developing corporate policies.

A key area of concern for large New Zealand organisations is providing support for consumer technology, with 96 percent of employers saying they believe that providing such support would increase the workload on the IT department. The concern appears to be particularly acute in New Zealand, because 73 percent of Kiwi employers – well above the global average of nearly 60 percent – report that contacting the IT department for support is their employees’ first course of action when they encounter a problem with their personally owned devices. However, nearly a quarter of employers (23 percent) report that employees would troubleshoot themselves first.

“Innovation in managing IT is the key for organisations seeking to embrace the consumerisation of IT,” said Mr Hodgson. “For example, consumer devices lend themselves to self service support methods such as portals, wikis and chatrooms – as we are used to managing them this way in our personal life. In fact, New Zealand employers report that already almost a quarter of their employees would troubleshoot personal-device issues themselves rather than go to the IT department. Such a self-service approach could relieve some of the organisational stress that impedes acceptance of the consumerisation of IT.”

Most IT executives responding to the survey say that their organisations have not yet developed or modified employee-facing corporate applications other than email for their employees to use on mobile devices. Only 4 percent have done so, and while 13 percent have plans to do so in the next twelve months, 83 percent have no plans in the next year. No organisations reported that they had already taken steps to develop or modify customer-facing applications, and only another 12 percent reported they expect to do so in the next 12 months.

Mr Hodgson said, “The real power of the consumerisation of IT is not just the mobile devices, but rather the opportunity they provide for IT organisations to develop, modernise and integrate applications that can be used to make data available to users regardless of time or location. Making applications work with mobile devices makes these mobile devices real business tools and also helps the organisation improve the efficiency of existing business processes or even create whole new business models.”

“With so many competing priorities, but no greater access to resources, it’s no wonder organisations don’t know where to prioritise their action and make a start. But they can’t afford to continue the delay."

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