Be Like Google and Apple, Modernize Your Mindset: Unisys

A new report advises enterprises to modernize old mindsets and support the swelling numbers of worker-owned smartphones already being used for work.

Smartphone sales are soaring, and young enterprise workers are more technologically savvy than ever. But a disconnect between worker activities and management's readiness to manage, support and secure those activities is resulting in lost business opportunities, according new research from Unisys that was conducted by IDC.

While it's time to modernize policies, many companies are even out of touch with the ways their employees are working. According to the report, 95 percent of the workers surveyed said that they use at least one device they purchased themselves, and are using smartphones, laptops and mobile phones at work at twice the rate reported by their employers. Despite this, 73 percent of IT executives described their enterprise networks as "very secure."

With employees more mobile than ever, businesses need a "fundamental change in mindset," though most "lack the policies, infrastructure or security to address this change," Unisys reports.

The challenges faced by BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion to compete in the United States against Apple and Android-running devices underscores the issue: Consumers are purchasing and bringing to work increasing numbers of smartphones that haven't been traditionally sanctioned by IT staff. That IT should be inflexible about the devices they support, needs some adjusting.

"[Organizations] are still largely operating in the standardized, command-and-control IT models of the past," stated the report. "Those models are very good at managing risks and costs, but they prevent the typical organization from navigating the swift waters of breakthrough thinking and innovation being unleashed by the fourth wave of productivity."

Those waves? Henry Ford's assembly line, in which the corporation dictated and employees complied, was the first; the Japanese model of "Kaizen," in which the collective is continually making small improvements is the second; and the Chinese model of productivity-"mass production, low prices and global domination," the report offers in summary-is the third.

The fourth wave, "unlike the top-down, process-driven trends of the past ... is bubbling up from the bottom," states the report, driven by "millions-even billions-of networked people around the world who are using technology to bring new ideas and unleash powerful innovation to those organizations that are ready and willing to take advantage."

Make that ready, willing and clued in. According to the study, 69 percent of workers reported they could access non-work-related Websites, while 44 percent of employers said it was the case. And while 37 percent of employers said workers could store personal data on company resources, 52 percent of workers said they could do exactly that.

The study also found 40 percent of workers to use instant messaging and text messaging for business purposes, and 25 percent to use blogs and professional online communities for business purposes; however, enterprises are failing to harness this savvy and know-how, with 40 percent of workers saying they don't have access to enterprise applications on their smartphones.

Don't turn away from this opportunity to benefit from not only workers' competencies, but also their willingness to fund their own devices, the report advises.

"By modernizing their policies, procedures and IT systems to harness this trend, organizations have a rare chance over the next three to five years to leapfrog competitors and overturn existing business models-much as Apple and Google did with their own consumer-led IT business revolutions," states the report.

Those that fail to do so will find themselves missing an opportunity to "avoid costs, increase their organizational productivity and flexibility, and appeal to a new generation of consumers and employees."