BYOD: Four reasons why your staff will take the plunge - with or without you

Trying to ban BYOD will just drive it underground, so IT departments need to address four reasons why staff are frustrated by their existing hardware.

As IT departments standardise and lock down desktops in a quest to slash support costs, staff are becoming increasingly frustrated with their corporate devices, fuelling demand for their company to adopt a bring your own device (BYOD) policy.

BYOD sees staff buying and using their own choice of laptops, smartphones and tablets to access corporate IT systems. The hard-line policies of some IT departments will lead to outbreaks of "unsanctioned" BYOD as "legions of workers retake control and cloak their efforts in clever ways", according to a report by analyst group Forrester. It warned that the IT department's "prohibition" will drive BYOD underground instead of stopping it.

Forrester found that workers are using more devices to get their jobs done than they are being given by their employers, with the average power user using three or more devices.

"Workers are dissatisfied and are spending an average of $1,253 annually of their own money on computers to do their jobs," the report said. It found that only 12 per cent of firms encourage staff to BYOD, with most actively discouraging it and some even penalising employees.

"The mismatch between employee needs and IT's position is obvious, but few infrastructure and operations organisations are adequately prepared to change course," said the report, Five Steps To A Successful BYOC Program.

Forrester said this lack of flexibility is down to IT departments' insistence on standardised, locked-down corporate PCs with as little variation as possible, in a bid to cut support calls and lower IT operational costs. The analyst said this approach brings the "unintended consequence of stagnation from the worker's point of view".

Forrester said four factors are likely to be fuelling demand for BYOD inside organisations

1. Workers have been on Windows XP for too long

Windows XP is 11 years old, yet it's still in on more than half of corporate desktops and laptops. "For employees accustomed to using Windows 7 or even the Mac OS at home, being forced to use Windows XP for work is frustrating," the report said.

2. Management tools and practices are outdated

Forrester said most of the tools and practices used for endpoint management and security were developed in the early 2000s, for Windows 2000 and XP. Since then, many of the underlying reasons for these practices have changed, rendering them obsolete. "Both Mac OS Lion and Windows 7 are very different from earlier-generation operating systems on many levels, yet IT organisations still apply the same outdated management tools and techniques," it said.

3. Locked-down PCs create productivity bottlenecks

Many employees now use two computers to get around the corporate IT lockdown - one provided by their employer, and the other their own. "They then find back-channel ways to transfer files and data between them, such as email, Dropbox, and of course thumb drives — behaviour that effectively decreases security," according to the report.

4. Gorilla-sized agents hog PC resources

Forrester said nearly half the processes running on a corporate PC may have nothing to do with the user's day job, causing great frustration. "The top offenders include antivirus and security agents, data backup processes, systems management, and a range of other processes such as application updaters. These agents run in their own space and routinely interrupt the end user's work by monopolising disk I/O, CPU, or other resources, often for several minutes at a time," the report said.


Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of

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