Dell, Intel Survey: BYOD Improves Productivity, Increases Security Risks

The IT consumerization trend, including BYOD, is proving to be a boon for both employees and businesses, though concerns around data security remain.

The ongoing consumerization of IT€”including the burgeoning bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend€”is continuing to drive greater worker productivity and loyalty, but security remains a concern, according to a report from Dell and Intel.

The survey, released July 25, reiterates the challenges presented to enterprises as employees become increasingly mobile and more likely to want to use their own smartphones and tablets for work. IT staffs need to figure out how to accommodate workers€™ demands while protecting the corporate network and data.

However, despite those security concerns, the trend toward IT consumerization is only gaining stream, according to the report. More tech-savvy workers are looking to break away from the traditional 9-to-5 work routine, and want to be more mobile, enabling them to work at any time and from any place. The result is positive for companies€”employee productivity and loyalty are both increased when such flexibility is allowed€”and businesses are working to enable such work environments.

"With today's increasingly tech-savvy workforce and outcome-driven employees, companies have everything to gain from fully embracing the IT consumerization and mobility trend that is redefining the workplace," Dell CIO Adriana Karaboutis said in a statement.

The findings were the final step in a research effort by Dell and Intel dubbed Insights from the Evolving Workforce research program. More than 8,000 workers from around the globe were interviewed, as were 29 experts and senior business leaders worldwide.

Consumerization of IT has become a significant disruption in the enterprise. The growth of smartphones and tablets over the past five years has fueled the BYOD trend, where rather than accepting company-issued laptops and mobile devices, employees are demanding to be able to do work on their own devices. After initial pushback, businesses are now embracing the trend. Networking vendor Cisco Systems in May released a survey in which 95 percent of respondents said their organizations allow employee-owned devices in the workplace, and 76 percent said BYOD was a positive force at their companies.

While IT consumerization has been used interchangeably with BYOD, the survey from Dell and Intel said that it also encompasses greater worker input into IT provisioning and workplace flexibility. Giving employees some level of choice in what technology they use and how mobile they can be increases their productivity, according to survey respondents, though they also said it was important for businesses to set clear parameters around levels of choice.

Regarding workers, the survey€”conducted by TNS Global Research€”also found that any policies around the consumerization of IT need to be transparent; having any parts hidden from employees could cause the policies to backfire. The openness builds trust, which in turn can fuel the productivity increases enterprises are hoping to get from the policies.

Survey participants also said businesses need to embrace the BYOD and other IT consumerization trends, not only for greater worker productivity and loyalty, but also to enhance the organization€™s competitiveness and improve operational efficiencies. In the same vein, businesses need to understand that the working world is becoming more mobile, and that they have to accept the growing roles of tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices in the workplace.

However, all the benefits don€™t negate security concerns, the report found. Most business leaders agree that employee use of personal mobile devices creates more security risks, including the potential for data to be mismanaged. Organizations are still grappling with the issues around data€”in particular, where it is and whether it€™s accurately protected.

"While reinventing the operational landscape through IT can have a positive impact on productivity and employee morale, we shouldn't lose sight of the challenges that these changes create for the business," Ed Goldman, IT CTO at Intel, said in a statement. "Every company will need to find the right balance between implementing changes to bring benefits to employees while matching the strategic objectives of the business."