The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has only just begun, according to a "Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends" report from research firm Forrester.
Just begun, that is, if one defines BYOD as employees choosing the devices they use for work. For those who instead define BYOD as employees paying for their devices, said the Feb. 4 report, "then we may be reaching the crossover point where your company pays for more smartphones than employees do."
The firm interviewed nearly 10,000 information workers around the world and found the number of "anytime, anywhere workers"—those using three or more devices, working from multiple locations and using many apps—to have risen from 23 percent in 2011 to 29 percent in 2012. Further, with tablet use for work and home expected to triple to 905 million units by 2017, "the anytime, anywhere work trend is just getting started," said the report.
What this means is that enterprises need to prepare, and a good start is building "a very deep marketing understanding of who your employees are and what they use technology for."
What Forrester found is a workforce working everywhere, using everything at their disposal. They use desktops, laptops, desk phones, smartphones, tablets and shared workstations and, desktops aside, use these fairly equally across locations.
As far as where they use smartphones, for example, 64 percent of respondents said their "work desk," 69 percent replied "home" and another 64 percent checked "while commuting."
Forrester also found that 33 percent of workers indicated they want an iPhone as their next smartphone, 32 percent said they want a Windows-based tablet and 36 percent were willing to contribute to the cost of the computer of their choice (which the analysts said they read as code for, "I'd like a MacBook or iMac, please").
Better understanding workers and their motivations, the Forrester analysts offered several pieces of advice. One was to mobilize key applications like SharePoint and SAP.
"Having apps on tablets and smartphone means that employees can carry their work in their pockets ... and work from any location: Meeting rooms, coffee shops and homes are just the most obvious new offices. Really, office space is now anywhere. How does your support for mobile apps stack up against the global competition?" the analysts asked.
They also advised focusing on software as a service, starting with Dropbox, which 70 percent of employees say they're already using, and 35 percent say they're using only for work.
The Dropbox figure, the report added, also offers an opportunity to "recognize the alignment between your interests and an employee's." One CIO in the study noted that when a device is lost, employees are quick to alert the company because they're as concerned about their personal information as their work information.
"Translated into policy," said the report, "this means that a simple 'kill' switch approach to mobile device management will work for you and also for your employees."