As "bring your own device" (BYOD) initiatives gain in popularity, mobile devices are having a transformative effect on businesses and their approaches to IT, according to a survey conducted by TNS Global Research for Dell and Intel.
Overall, the data shows that mobile devices like Android smartphones and iPad tablets are improving productivity and changing attitudes toward the consumerization of IT. The results are part of a multi-year project called the The Evolving Workforce that the companies embarked on to chart changing trends in workplace IT.
The companies polled over 8,360 workers worldwide. What they discovered is that the 9 to 5 workday is starting to become an antiquated notion for many knowledge workers, thanks in part to the consumerization of IT and workloads that don't neatly fit into 8-hour workdays.
Only 60 percent of those polled felt they could get their work done in on a typical 9 to 5 schedule. Forty-three percent reported feeling under pressure to work more hours.
Economic pressures are stifling IT budgets across the globe, particularly in emerging markets. Fortunately, businesses have found an unlikely ally in bolstering their IT capabilities: their employees.
Armed with personal devices, including laptops, smartphones and tablets, workers are helping their employers not only curb IT expenditures but also promote higher levels of productivity and collaboration. And workers, by and large, are apparently more than happy to go along with it.
According to the study, "nearly half of the workforce around the world expresses a desire to be able to use their computer and other devices for both work and personal use (46 percent)." Mexico (73 percent), China (67 percent) and India (64 percent) lead with higher than average rates of BYOD acceptance.
The private sector is more likely to support employee choice in computing devices (45 percent) compared to the public sector (32 percent). And SMBs take the BYOD lead (49 percent) over large enterprises (36 percent).
"The line has blurred between an enterprise computer and a consumer electronic device," noted Dell Chief Innovation Officer Jim Stikeleather in the report.
"Value is no longer just in the ROI but is emotional and social. True consumerization is epitomized by the smartphone experience: iPhone and Android users are not thinking of their devices in terms of a computer but as a part of their life like air and water. In reality there's more compute power and capability instantly available to them than NASA used in a decade to put a man on the moon," he added.
Employees and employers both are putting that mobile computing power to work.
Mobile units are proving their worth by improving accessibility to data. Fifty-nine percent of those polled claim to be able to share data between all of their devices, according to the survey.
But there are risks. Many workers have free rein to install apps that keep them productive. Among those polled, 57 percent said they had the freedom to download software they felt would aid them in their work.
This is causing enterprises to rethink their approach to IT security. "In order to sustain and safeguard workforce productivity, several employers are frequently reviewing internal practices due to a common concern that their employees might inadvertently circumvent established workplace security protocols by using untested devices or software," said the report.
In the BYOD era, enterprises will increasingly find themselves walking a fine line between promoting business-boosting productivity and safeguarding critical data. "In order to ensure employees are not alienated or de-motivated by security driven restrictions, employers will need to communicate the specific security concerns posed in an open and transparent manner," advises the study.