VMware: Companies slow at embracing BYO computing

Recent study by virtualisation vendor finds that businesses are having trouble keeping up with the technology needs of their employees

While Australian employees have shown a willingness to use personal IT devices and web-based software at the workplace, the reality is corporate IT departments are lagging in providing them with the freedom and support they desire, according to VMware.

The observation comes from a recent survey by the virtualisation vendor, titled Australian Consumer Study. Around 200 local executives were asked to share their thoughts about portable devices and bring your own (BYO) computing trends in the workplace.

For VMware Australia end user computing expert, Dave Wakeman, the result that stood out was half of the respondents said that their productivity improved in using their own devices at work.

“They were also happier, as they enjoy working on their devices much more,” he said.

This result also highlighted that BYO computing is coming into the workplace “in a big way,” potentially indicating that it is "a trend that’s not a fad.”

“It’s a real shift in the way people want to handle computing, and businesses have to really think about how they are going to accommodate that,” Wakeman said.

The report also found that that portable devices and BYO computing are significantly boosting productivity for employees at all levels of business.

“This is interesting, as the study went into the types of applications that people were using,” Wakeman said.

“Beyond social networking and browsing your mail, users were also making use of general communication, finance applications, and their own customer databases.”

However, this discovery also highlighted that the policies and the processes found at the workplace are “very out of date” compared to the experience that people have at home, and Wakeman points out that homes are now “one step ahead of corporate IT,” whereas in the past it was the other way around.

Another key observation was that while 93 per cent of respondents said their companies were aware that employees were bringing personal devices to work, 79 per cent also said that their companies offered no IT support for those devices.

“The way those statistics read out is basically that most companies know that devices are there in the organisation, but very few support connecting your iOS or Android devices to the corporate email system,” Wakeman said.

“Most just take the approach of ‘we know your device is on the network but we just have zero support for it, and if you do it yourself we’ll turn a blind eye to it.’”

For Wakeman, the underlying problem of that discrepancy is that the small number that do support these devices will have to grow.

“It’s not satisfactory for business just to have all these devices come in with no real security or policy around them,” he said.

Wakeman also feels that it is “equally clear” that trying to wrap the same policies they have for PCs for these device is not going to work, especially not if a company wants its people to “be productive and satisfied” with their computing experience.