Market research – Bring your own device

h2index has been carrying out some market research of its own recently, speaking to selected key clients, all multinationals with over 10,000 employees, to find out what research they might be interested in sharing with other global companies. The clear favourite was the whole “consumerisation of IT” issue or “bring your own device (BYOD)”: viewing users as consumers whose preferences need to be satisfied rather than employees whose usage can be controlled.

The drivers for this change are complex:

  • IT managers are considering BYOD because congenial devices make staff more likely to work anywhere, any time: this is good for productivity. IT managers also recognise that BYOD is not for everybody: some staff will always want standard services.
  • Large multinationals frequently collaborate with specialised business partners across all areas of their enterprise. In conversation, h2index found several examples of companies with more external than internal people working for them through these partnerships. The only practical way of enabling this many people to have the IT access required is to allow them to use their own device. The cost of providing them all with computers is prohibitive.
  • In their quest to attract, and hang onto, the brightest and best brains, companies realise prospective employees (and staff) judge them by the quality of the smartphones, tablets and laptops they provide. Chunky kit and clunky practices are a major turn-off. Similarly these new staff members expect to be wooed with sophisticated social media functionality: security rarely crosses their minds. As people blend home, office and mobile working, any notion of multiple devices is increasingly unattractive. The boundary between personal and business device is disappearing and companies are working hard to remove such barriers.

Talking to senior IT managers, it is clear that their primary concern with BYOD is security. The emphasis is moving from restricting and policing, to providing company services that are better than the alternatives thus removing users’ incentive to stray. We also see companies starting to segregate users, applications and data according to their security sensitivity and then match access and permissions accordingly, rather than relying on the device to manage the security.

The h2index research will examine all of these issues and more, including the drivers, user needs, real examples of BYOD implementation and the consequent value proposition.

The study is taking place in Q3 2012 and companies are invited to join on the basis of sharing the costs. If you would like to take part, please reply to this email.