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New Study Finds Enterprises Struggling with BYOD

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CompTIA, a non-profit trade organization for the IT industry, recently released its Third Annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility study, surveying 400 business and IT executives responsible for mobility policies and processes. The study might have been expected to find widespread enthusiasm for BYOD and a nice smattering of success stories, but it didn’t. Instead it found that U.S. companies of all sizes are having difficulty managing their mobile deployments and realizing all the benefits of mobility promised by BYOD enthusiasts.

Specifically, the study found:

  • Over 70% of organizations “have made some level of investment to build out mobility” solutions.
  • 55% of organizations have implemented some form of BYOD—a figure much lower than the 95% cited in a recent study by Cisco.
  • Just 30% of companies put formal mobility policies in place.
  • Just 8% have adjusted workflow to account for mobile technology.

The top investment is mobile devices. BYOD hype notwithstanding, many companies are providing employees with smartphones and tablets, rather than counting on or requiring employees to provide their own devices.

  • Small companies are struggling to support and integrate mobile devices and mobile services.
  • Mid-sized companies are struggling to balance end user needs with those of the IT department.
  • Large companies are struggling to support and integrate a large number of devices.

What can one conclude from these findings? Here are several thoughts.

First, mobility is being added to, rather than integrated with, legacy infrastructure. Why? Integration has been difficult. Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions are designed for managing, provisioning, and tracking mobile devices. They do nothing to make it easier for a mobile worker in the field to be productive, including quick, easy, and secure access to important files stored behind the corporate firewall in enterprise content management systems such as Documentum or SharePoint. Employees might be carrying multiple mobile devices, but the IT infrastructure and file access controls are still centered on the desktop. For now, enterprises are desktop-first, mobile-second.

The other conclusion follows from the finding that only 8% of organizations had adjusted their workflow to account for mobile devices—that even now, many years into the BYOD revolution and 7 years after the iPhone was introduced, business processes still assume that employees are sitting at their desks, staring into big screens and typing on full keyboards.

Until mobile services are more fully integrated into legacy systems, it is going to be difficult for companies to reshape their workflows to take advantage of mobile devices. Think about it: How can you streamline a workflow if a mobile user still has to struggle with a VPN on a smartphone to access a Web form that’s still hosted behind the firewall and designed for desktop users? Mobile workflow optimization depends on integration, and integration—for too many enterprises—has been a struggle.

However impressive the ROI and productivity gains are that enterprises have achieved with mobile technology so far, they’re only a fraction of what will be achieved once enterprises adopt a mobile-first infrastructure.

We know that employees are spending most of their online time now on smartphones and tablets. When IT services are available—with convenience and without compromise—on those same small, portable devices, the real revolution will begin.

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