May 11, 2011

Survey: Consumer devices in the workplace drive up IT anxiety

With the surge in use of the iPad and other consumer devices, IT departments are faced with an increasing number of employees who want to bring their own devices to work. Enterasys conducted a survey of 100 IT professionals at the Interop conference in Las Vegas this week delving into the most important issues facing IT when it comes to the “consumerization of IT” trend. Respondents represented various vertical industries including education, government, finance, medical, and energy, and across small, medium and large organizations.

Of those surveyed, the majority are very concerned with personal devices connecting to the corporate network, yet admit there are productivity benefits in allowing employees to bring in their own devices.

Some highlights of the survey that speak to the growth of this phenomenon:

  • 78% use personal devices for business-related purposes or use corporate devices to connect to personal applications
  • 70% of respondents are somewhat or absolutely concerned with personal mobile devices iPads, iPhones, Androids) connecting to the corporate network
  • 84% indicate their corporate network is protected from devices that are poorly managed and/or unpatched
  • 35% admit to violating their corporate policy at least occasionally

Respondents are most concerned with security risks (81% are somewhat or absolutely concerned); followed by device maintenance and management costs and challenges (67%); decreased employee productivity (63%); and unnoticeable policy violations (61%).

Access to outside applications is also another area of concern for IT, whether it is social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, or personal email accounts, which could serve as a security backdoor to the company’s network.

  • 57% are somewhat or absolutely concerned with employees using corporate-sanctioned devices to connect to non-corporate sanctioned applications (social networking sites, instant messaging, personal email, etc.)
  • Nearly half (46%) of respondents do NOT have a policy around the use of social networking applications.

Meanwhile, those surveyed are conflicted (and about evenly split) as to whether allowing employees to use their own devices impacts productivity.

  • 63% indicate they were worried about decreased employee productivity, while 62% indicate improved employee productivity is somewhat or very influential factor in allowing employees to use their own devices.

Overall, improved employee productivity is the most influential factor in allowing employees to use their own devices (62% indicate this is somewhat or very influential); followed by cost savings (51%); and employee demand and satisfaction (35%).

More than anything this survey shows the balance IT departments have to strike in wanting to support the devices and applications that employees are most comfortable in using with the inherent security risks they pose to the organization. We explored various options enterprises have in supporting this trend in previous blog posts, including one around VDI and another based on network-based assessment, as well as in a solution brief. I look forward to your feedback in how you’re facing this challenge at your company.

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Extreme Marketing Team

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