The "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) movement - whereby personal employee-owned devices are being brought into the office and used for business purposes - has been in full swing for some time, with a majority of companies using BYOD. BYOD can offer an array of potential benefits for businesses and workers alike: lowered equipment/service plan costs and reduced device support for businesses as well as equipment choice, work-life flexibility and familiar interfaces for users. The BYOD movement has represented a shift towards consumerization in the workplace and the blend of business/personal technology via a "whatever works best to get the job done" mindset.
New concepts like wearable devices (gadgets that can perform functions like fitness or environmental monitoring or conveniently interface with a smart phone) and the "internet of things" (internet-connected objects such as appliances, thermostats, vehicles and even living beings such as livestock) have the potential to further influence and change the BYOD trend by diversifying it and making it more complex. This can add value to business operations, but can also detract from them if not carefully managed.
We've performed some studies in the past on the subjects of BYOD and wearables. We looked at BYOD business strategies in early 2013 and the resulting research report showed that:
- 44% of organizations allowed BYOD and another 18% planned to permit it by 2014
- Security concerns ranked the most common reason not to adopt BYOD
- Among companies using BYOD, the goal of lower IT costs hadn't been significantly realized
- Most organizations allowing BYOD had less than 50 percent employee participation at the time may also play into this issue
We conducted a BYOD survey on wearable devices in May 2014 and the resulting research report indicated that:
- Only 11% of respondent organizations were using, planning to use or budgeting for wearables
- "No business need" was cited by many respondents although healthcare and business service/consulting industries are the areas where they were most likely in use
- Among those who were using wearables, 58% said that IT had very little or no involvement in the deployment process
- IT budget allocated to wearables was still extremely limited at that time, but nevertheless the large majority of our survey respondents reported that their organization's wearables budget for the year had either remained constant or increased
- Despite the rather small number of respondents currently using wearables, those using them reported clear gains from their deployment
- Improved communication, better organizational capabilities, and enhanced productivity were most often cited as the value brought to respondents' organizations by wearables
We revisited the topic in January 2015 to analyze wearable devices and the Internet of Things in the BYOD realm. Our latest report on the issue showed that:
- Nearly ¾ of companies were using BYOD, although it was more common in smaller vs. large organizations
- Security concerns remained prevalent
- IT & Technology and educational companies were the most likely to permit BYOD and Government the most likely to prohibit it
- 71% of respondents had no plans to implement wearables, yet 60% of this group was unsure whether they would be part of their BYOD strategy, indicating they might still be on the fence
- Smartphones/tablets were the most likely devices to be used in BYOD scenarios and smart watches the most common wearables in use
- Small companies were the most likely to have included Internet of Things (IoT) devices into their BYOD plans
- Monitors/sensors were the most common IoT devices in use
- Apple, Samsung and Microsoft were the most common technology vendors whose products were permitted for use
- 78% of those who took the survey stated BYOD had lowered or had no effect on IT costs, but nearly half also indicated BYOD increased their IT support duties, showing it can have different impacts upon different companies depending on how it is implemented
As part of our ongoing analysis of the evolution of the BYOD movement, we'd like to revisit the topic to examine what if anything has changed in the way in which wearables and the internet of things may be impacting it.
Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.