Bring Your Own Devices

BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) is currently a hot topic for discussion in both educational and corporate worlds.  So much so, that designers of online learning, eLearning and mobile learning are now giving serious consideration to its numerous implications, whilst many IT people shudder at the mere thought of it.  The question remains though is whether this is yet another trend or something that is here to stay.

20 or so years ago the first mobile phones were bought by organisations and given to employees.  Going back even further, 30 years ago people used computers at work but not so much at home.  In other words, technological innovation flowed from the organisation into the home.  However, today, it is very much the opposite.

Some latest research by Forrester (a survey of 2,300 IT mobility decision-makers and nearly 5,000 workers in North America and Europe) found that 66% of employees now use two or more devices every day, including desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets, with 12% saying that they now used tablets at work.  Furthermore, 55% of organisations said that supporting a larger number of smartphones was a high or critical priority over the next 12 months, whilst 52% said the same about supporting tablets.

Many organisations now have BYOD policies, which partly explains the wide variety and number of mobile devices found in the workplace.  The findings from the Forrester survey showed that 70% of tablet users were allowed to pick their own, where only 15% of organisations issued the tablets directly and 13% had to select one from a pre-approved list.  When it came to smartphones 67% chose their own, 15% had no choice and another 15% had to select one from a pre-approved list.

However, many organisations still lack a clear strategy for dealing with the growing practice of BYOD and, as a result, are putting themselves at risk of IT and security issues, frustrated employees, wasted work hours and decreased productivity.

Gartner estimates that by 2014 90% of organisations will offer BYOD to their employees.  In the meantime, whilst 34% of CIOs (Chief Information Officers) think that employees are accessing their organisation’s network with personal devices, 69% of employees say that they are accessing their organisation’s network with personal devices.  So, there is obviously some considerable mismatch here with what is taking place already.

The evidence points to the fact that BYOD is not a temporary trend but is becoming the norm.  For employees who spend a large proportion of their working day on the move, gaining mobile access to learning and communication materials most definitely unlocks a lot of that time, as many health care workers and sales people have discovered already.  The business case for BYOD is quite straightforward but making sure that all those who engage with it can do so with confidence and ease, is probably far less so.

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