There have been plenty of predictions about the "bring your own device" trend, but that's not stopping Gartner from making a few more. Gartner's latest research shows 38 percent of companies expect to stop providing devices to workers by 2016 and half of companies will mandate BYOD by 2017.
Gartner defines a BYOD strategy as an alternative strategy that allows employees, business partners and other users to use a personally selected and purchased client device to execute applications and access data. Many think of smartphones and tablets in the context of BYOD, but Gartner also includes PCs in the mix.
"BYOD strategies are the most radical change to the economics and the culture of client computing in business in decades," said David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "The benefits of BYOD include creating new mobile workforce opportunities, increasing employee satisfaction, and reducing or avoiding costs."
More Education Needed
While BYOD is finding its way into companies and governments of all sizes, Gartner said it is most prevalent in mid-size and large organizations. BYOD also makes it possible for smaller companies to go mobile without a huge device and service investment. Despite driving innovation for CIOs and businesses by increasing the number of mobile app users in the workforce, Willis said the business case for BYOD still need to be better evaluated.
"Most leaders do not understand the benefits, and only 22 percent believe they have made a strong business case. Like other elements of the Nexus of Forces -- cloud, mobile, social and information -- mobile initiatives are often exploratory and may not have a clearly defined and quantifiable goal, making IT planners uncomfortable," he said. "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."
According to Gartner, how a well-managed BYOD program subsidizes the use of a personal device is critical, and can dramatically change the economics. Today, the firm reported, about half of BYOD programs provide a partial reimbursement, and full reimbursement for all costs will become rare.
"The enterprise should subsidize only the service plan on a smartphone," said Willis. "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."
Security Concerns Remain
Gartner reports that BYOD does increase risks and changes expectations for CIOs, and security is the top concern for BYOD. That said, IT is catching up to the trend. More than half of organizations rate themselves high in security of corporate data for enterprise-owned mobile devices.
"We're finally reaching the point where IT officially recognizes what has always been going on: People use their business device for non-work purposes. They often use a personal device in business," Willis said.
"Once you realize that, you'll understand you need to protect data in another way besides locking down the full device. It is essential that IT specify which platforms will be supported and how; what service levels a user should expect; what the user's own responsibilities and risks are; who qualifies; and that IT provides guidelines for employees purchasing a personal device for use at work.