Third annual Unisys study of consumerization of IT shows that a super-connected class of “mobile elite” workers is defying IT policies to work more efficiently and serve customers – but potentially creating big risks along the way
BLUE BELL, Pa., September 25, 2012 – New research from Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS) conducted by Forrester Consulting reveals a deepening divide between increasingly mobile information workers and the enterprise IT departments that support them.
The third-annual Unisys consumerization of IT survey, conducted by Forrester1, shows that this divide is being driven by a class of super-connected, tech-savvy mobile workers who are defying IT policies by using unsupported, “bring your own” devices and applications to get work done and serve customers on the front lines of business.
These “mobile elite” workers, while pushing the envelope of innovation and change within their organizations, are creating fresh support and security challenges for their IT departments, which often have a different view of how and where personally owned technologies are being used.
“This year’s research shows that the consumerization charge is being led by an elite group of highly connected mobile workers who are using the latest technologies to better serve customers and help their organizations succeed – regardless of whether those technologies are officially supported and sanctioned,” said Fred Dillman, Unisys chief technology officer.
“Rather than fighting this trend, we believe CIOs and IT decision makers should study the behavior of these mobile elite workers in order to understand which approaches provide real innovation and differentiation for their organizations, and then craft their mobile infrastructures to safely support these activities,” Dillman said.
Widening Gap between Information Workers and IT Organizations
The 2012 research is based on responses from two separate but related surveys conducted in nine countries.2 One study surveyed some 2,600 information workers (iWorkers) within organizations to gauge their use of consumer technologies in the workplace. The second study polled 590 business and IT executives to better understand their views and support of these technologies.
The new Unisys-commissioned research shows the “bring your own” trend continues to accelerate in the workplace, and is spreading beyond devices to personal applications:
- 43 percent of surveyed iWorkers report using three or more devices for work.
- Smartphones are used by 44 percent of surveyed iWorkers, with about a third of those phones purchased by the employees, while 15 percent of surveyed iWorkers report using tablet computers for work, with more than half of those tablets bought personally.
- 68 percent of tablet users and 63 percent of smartphone users say that convenience is the reason they use these technologies for work.
- Nearly 40 percent of global surveyed iWorkers report using an unsupported “bring your own” application or cloud service, such as personal email, file-sharing service or video conferencing, for work.
- 62 percent of 18-31 year olds (Gen Y+Z) and 54 percent of 32-45 year olds (Gen X) say the technology they have at home is better than what they have at work.
The new research also shows that iWorkers and IT decision makers view the business value of these consumer technologies quite differently:
- 56 percent of iWorkers surveyed say that they use unsupported personal devices or apps for work because they need the capabilities and their organization does not provide an alternative.
- However, 72 percent of IT executives surveyed say that employees are making use of unsupported devices or apps because of personal preference, not because they need to do critical work.
iWorkers and IT departments also seem to have different views of corporate support for personally owned technologies in the workplace:
- 61 percent of surveyed IT decision-makers believe that their employees will contact the company IT department first when they encounter a problem with a personal device they use for work.
- However, 64 percent of iWorkers say that they would troubleshoot the problem themselves or contact a friend first, and only 21 percent would make the IT department the first point of contact for resolution.
- IT departments report that they are increasingly supporting company-owned tablets and smartphones in the workplace: 61 percent of IT respondents say that their organizations provide a high level of IT support for company-owned smartphones and tablets, up from only 27 percent in 2011. However, fewer IT respondents – 17 percent in 2012 vs. 18 percent in 2011 – say that their firms provide high levels of support for employee-owned smartphones and tablets.
Mobile Elite Workers Are Setting the Pace in Consumerization
The new research shows the extent to which the consumerization trend is being driven by a select group of highly connected employees that Unisys terms the “mobile elite.”
These individuals, comprising 23 percent of the total iWorker respondents, are those who make intensive use of multiple personally owned devices and applications to get work done.
In studying the behaviors of these individuals, Unisys found that the mobile elite are more likely than average iWorkers to report using consumer technologies to be more productive, serve customers, and drive innovation:
- 58 percent of mobile elites spend their own money to buy things such as personal technology to do their jobs, compared to 27 percent of average iWorkers.
- 67 percent of mobile elites say that use of personal devices or applications makes them more productive and efficient, compared to 43 percent of average iWorkers.
- More than a third of the mobile elite say that using ”bring your own” devices and applications allows them to better serve customers and collaborate with colleagues, compared to 24 percent of average iWorkers.
- 43 percent of mobile elite workers say they recently participated in a work-based innovation program, versus 33 percent of average iWorkers.
- 37 percent of mobile elite respondents say that they recently convinced their management to significantly change a work process, compared to 27 percent of average iWorkers.
Mobile Workers Creating New Risks for Their Organizations
In their zeal to be more productive and service-centric, mobile elite workers – whether intentionally or not – may be opening up new management, support and security risks for their organizations.
Mobile elite workers are more than three times as likely as average iWorkers to download unauthorized applications to get work done. In fact, 82 percent of mobile elite workers report having done this, despite the fact that 75 percent of IT decision makers say they consider downloading unauthorized software for work as grounds for dismissal.
The Unisys research reveals that IT organizations may not be prepared to address the risks being created by their highly connected, mobile employees:
- 54 percent of IT decision makers say that their organizations have inadequate tools or missing policies to secure employee-owned smartphones.
- 71 percent of IT respondents say that they have implemented password-based solutions as the primary means of user authentication, or plan to do so over the next 12 months. The percentages were far lower for planned use of more sophisticated means of security, including attached-device authentication (22 percent) and facial biometrics (12 percent).
On an encouraging note, 67 percent of IT decision makers surveyed say that enhancing mobile security is a high or critical priority over the next 12 months.
Note to Editors
1Mobile Workers Use Personal Apps to Solve Customer Problems – Is IT Ready, Willing, and Able To Assist? A Forrester thought leadership paper commissioned by Unisys, September 2012.
2Unisys commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct the two global surveys in June 2012. They first polled 2609 employees/iWorkers to evaluate the state of mobile and personal device use and application use in the workplace. The second, separate study surveyed IT and decision makers from organizations of more than 500 employees with responsibility for purchasing computing devices or applications to support their enterprise. Respondents in both surveys were randomly recruited and screened from international panels, and came from nine countries: United States, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand and United Kingdom. For complete details, visit Unisys’ Consumerization of IT site.
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Brian Daly, 215-986-2214