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5 new revelations about on-the-job gadget usage

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Even though many employees use at least three devices for work, Forrester Research reports only 6 percent of North American, European companies have embraced adequate management policies.

There has been a veritable avalanche of data released this week about the "bring your own device" movement (aka the BYOD phenomenon).

The main theme of these research tidbits: most IT organizations are thoroughly unprepared to manage the smartphones and tablets and other gadgets that their employees are schlepping into work to get their jobs done. These are devices that may or may not have been requisitioned or purchased by the company. But in some way, they have proven useful in helping someone somewhere get his or her job done.

So, what exactly should businesses be worrying about or using to their advantage?

Here are 5 revelations about the BYOD movement -- driven in large part by the drive of consumer technologies into business environments -- from a report released this week by influential market research firm Forrester Research. That report is called "Info Workers Using Mobile and Personal Devices for Work Will Transform Personal Tech Markets." It builds on Forrester's ongoing Forrsights Workforce Employee Surveys, which surveys thousands of IT and business decision makers regularly. Here are some of the findings:

  1. Personal and professional usage is blurring. Just 14 percent of the mobile and personal computer devices that the Forrester survey respondents reported using are used ONLY for professional purposes. You read that right. Approximately 60 percent of the IT and business decision makers reporting their technology usage to Forrester were using their devices for personal and professional purposes.
  2. Multitasking abounds. More than half of information workers use at least three different technology devices for work.
  3. Microsoft's dominance is slipping. One-third of the mobile devices being used do not use Microsoft operating system software. Forrester predicts that Microsoft's share of mobile devices will slip below 50 percent by 2016.
  4. Personal preferences are showing through. One-quarter of the devices were not "conventional" personal computers, which means that IT teams might be able to test out new concepts and technologies by watching how employees use them. That is they bother to pay enough attention.
  5. IT managers are turning their back. Despite all the devices showing up in the workplace outside the control of technology organizations, only 6 percent of North American and European companies reporting to Forrester had started a program to support BYOD or bring your own PC movement. That was up from 3 percent in 2010 and more incremental acceptance is expected during the next 12 months.

All of the above will absolutely rewrite the rules of IT spending priorities during the next five years, so it probably is a good idea to reassess whether that budget is being dedicated.

It sort of goes without saying that the smartest businesses around are embracing this movement, because their employees tend to be more productive, in some cases around the clock.

The other good news is that the spirit of "bring your own device" may absolve you from worrying about paying for regular PC hardware upgrades. The bad news is that your organization better be putting a lot more money of its technology budget into updating, securing and setting access policies for all of these "unmanaged" devices, in order to protect valuable intellectual property assess and confidential customer data.

Thumbnail image: adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure