Small Businesses Embrace BYOD, Lacking on MDM Adoption

One-third of SMB IT professionals surveyed note their BYOD policy works well for some devices and poorly for others.

Despite a shift toward greater support for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, only 37 percent of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are managing or plan to manage mobile devices using a mobile device management (MDM) offering, according to a survey of 991 SMB IT professionals conducted by Spiceworks and sponsored by mobility management solutions specialist Fiberlink.

The study, "As BYOD Becomes Mainstream, Complexity Increases for SMBs," revealed that 61 percent of SMBs have implemented a BYOD policy, and more than half (54 percent) of SMBs support employee-owned smartphones, while 42 percent support tablets through a BYOD initiative. A quarter of respondents said they support employee-owned computers.

However, one-third of IT professionals note their BYOD policy works well for some devices and poorly for others, while 23 percent say it's a headache for their department. Only 17 percent fully embrace the trend. Smaller SMBs with fewer than 250 employees are more likely to have a BYOD policy, with 69 percent saying they support BYOD. Fifty-three percent of midsize businesses with 250-999 employees expressed support for BYOD programs.

Companies with more than 250 employees also have a higher adoption rate of MDM technologies, with 21 percent having already adopted or currently implementing and another 25 percent planning to do so within six months. Of the respondents investing in MDM technologies, more than half (53 percent) selected cloud-based solutions.

"It's clear BYOD support will continue to grow so the industry conversation must evolve from 'whether to how' IT organizations can better manage and secure the devices employees bring to work each day," Kathryn Pribish, voice of IT program manager at Spiceworks, said in a statement. "The results of the survey also highlight an opportunity for mobile device management vendors to help SMBs understand the issues associated with BYOD policies and how MDM offerings can help."

Of those organizations that support BYOD, only 17 percent are actively managing mobile devices using a MDM offering and an additional 20 percent have plans to address the management of mobile devices in the next six months. However, 56 percent have no plans to implement a MDM solution at this time, the survey revealed.

When asked why they had not deployed a MDM solution, just under half (49 percent) said they do not perceive big enough security threats to warrant the investment despite recognizing they do exist. Thirty-six percent claim they lack the knowledge to proceed with the implementation of a MDM technology, and another 34 percent cited budgetary concerns.

The survey is the latest in a long line of reports issued this year offering a window into the complicated world of small business BYOD benefits and hazards. Earlier this month, a Network Instruments survey indicated that as the use of personal devices on corporate networks increases, 54 percent of network managers reported user experience improved while using mobile devices, but more than 40 percent indicated their ability to monitor applications worsened.

When listing the biggest challenges in managing portable devices, just more than half (51 percent) of respondents indicated identifying and tracking mobile devices as the major concern. That was followed closely with tracking security vulnerabilities and patches (47 percent). Meanwhile, troubleshooting portable devices caused problems for 42 percent of the survey participants.