IT executives are struggling to protect corporate data and intellectual property as more employees use their personal devices to check work email, read documents and log in to enterprise systems, according to a recent study.
Of the 750 IT professionals who took part in the Dell KACE-sponsored survey, 87 percent of the respondents said their company allowed employees to use personal devices to access corporate applications, according to the report released Sept. 13. About 80 percent said employees used personal smartphones and 69 percent said employees brought personal laptops to work.
In addition, 87 percent of respondents felt their companies were unable to effectively protect corporate resources and data being accessed or stored on those devices, the survey found. In fact, 62 percent believed the companies they worked for were not adequately prepared to deal with personal devices flooding the workplace.
In case anyone was wondering whether employees were using personal devices for work purposes, the report laid that question definitely to rest.
"Consumerization of IT is not simply a passing trend; it is the way business will be conducted on an ongoing basis," said Diane Hagglund, senior research analyst for Dimensional Research and the study's author.
Email was the most common business task that employees performed on personal devices. Other activities included checking the calendar, making phone calls, sending text messages, accessing social media applications and logging in to enterprise applications, CRM software and ERP systems.
Consumer products are evolving into viable business tools to support a more mobile, efficient and connected workforce, according to Hagglund.
While employees are being productive even while away from their desks, IT staffs are scrambling to identify all devices working within a corporate network to ensure that sensitive data remains secure, Hagglund wrote, noting that a majority of the businesses did not have a set of standard practices to make sure everything runs smooth and secure.
It was "critical" that companies put policies and standards into place to support devices to ensure corporate security, according to Hagglund. The report found that only 18 percent said there were plans to put a policy in place and 13 percent indicated there were no plans to implement such a policy.
The professionals surveyed recognized that this was a problem, as 88 percent said it was "important" for IT to support consumer devices within the organization. However, only 17 percent were supporting all devices, 19 percent had a limited list of what they supported and 33 percent didn't support any personal devices, the survey found.
Two-thirds of the respondents believed that personal devices posed a security risk. About 62 percent were specifically concerned about network security breaches and 43 percent worried about not meeting compliance requirements. About 50 percent expressed concern about loss of customer data because of misplaced devices and 48 percent worried about potential theft of intellectual property. Nearly 64 percent reported not feeling confident that they knew about all the applications and devices connecting to the network.
Of all the different devices employees use-smartphones, laptops and tablets-the report found that the Apple iPhone is the most commonly used device for workers, with about 72 percent of staffers using one.
After that, about 63 percent of workers use an Android-based smartphone, while 63 percent use a Windows-based PC, 60 percent use an iPad tablet and 52 percent use a BlackBerry smartphone.
The use of personal devices in the workplace has affected other IT decisions, such as what operating systems would be supported, the survey found. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said the popularity of the Apple iPad and iPhone has resulted in employees demanding support for Mac OS X. Similarly, 59 percent said their IT teams have started supporting more operating systems because employees were using personal laptops running nonsupported operating systems.
"The results of our latest survey represent a significant shift in how systems administrators manage their organization's networks in today's disparate global work force," said Rob Meinhardt, general manager and co-founder of Dell KACE.