Study Predicts BYOD Boom by 2016

You buy the smartphone and your boss pays for the plan in one recommended scenario.

A recent Telework Week report indicated that bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, programs have yet to fully take hold in the federal government, even though many employees are pressing to use their own smartphones and tablets for work. That may soon change: A new analysis predicts more than one-third of organizations will stop providing devices to workers by 2016.

Based on answers to its recent global survey of chief information officers, Gartner predicts that by 2016 38 percent of organizations will have stopped providing mobile devices to employees, instead allowing employees to choose and use their own devices in the workplace. By 2017, half of employees will be using their own devices for work, the analysis found.

But while BYOD is becoming more prevalent, the business case for it needs to be evaluated, Gartner noted. Most leaders, for example, do not understand the benefits of BYOD, with just 22 percent of CIOs saying they’ve made a strong business case for the option.

“Mobile initiatives are often exploratory and may not have a clearly defined and quantifiable goal, making IT planners uncomfortable,” said David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, in a statement. “If you are offering BYOD, take advantage of the opportunity to show the rest of the organization the benefits it will bring to them and to the business.”

One of the major questions surrounding BYOD continues to be how organizations subsidize the use of a personal device. Roughly half of BYOD programs currently provide partial reimbursement to employees, while full reimbursement for costs is rare.

Gartner touts the partial reimbursement strategy as best. “The enterprise should subsidize only the service plan on a smartphone,” Willis said. “What happens if you buy a device for an employee and they leave the job a month later? How are you going to settle up? Better to keep it simple. The employee owns the device, and the company helps to cover usage costs.”

Unsurprisingly, security remains a top concern among CIOs when it comes to BYOD, with most concerned about the potential of data leakage on mobile platforms. At the same time, more than half of CIOs rated their organizations high in security of corporate data and enterprise-owned mobile devices. As a result, organizations will have to find a way catch up in securing employee-owned mobile devices, Gartner noted.

Finally, Gartner found that while BYOD is occurring in companies and governments of all sizes, it’s most common in midsize and large organizations. Companies in the United States are twice as likely to allow BYOD as those in Europe, while employees in India, China and Brazil are the most likely to be using a personal device, typically a standard mobile phone, at work.