IT embraces bring your own device in corporate deployment, despite risks

While the bring-your-own-device phenomenon in IT presents a fair amount of risk to enterprise security, most companies are warming up to the idea anyway. A Cisco-sponsored survey of 600 IT and business leaders found that 95 percent of their companies allow employee-owned devices on the corporate network.

Of all companies surveyed, 36 percent support all BYOD devices, while 48 percent support a select list of devices. An additional 11 percent tolerate employee-owned devices on enterprise networks, but will offer no IT support.

The overwhelming number of corporations giving some type of support to BYOD is due to a large majority of IT executives themselves seeing the initiative as positive to their companies. Cisco says 76 percent of respondents called BYOD either somewhat or extremely positive, citing higher employee job satisfaction and increased productivity as reasons for their support. The benefits outweigh the risks, the data suggests, and it's better to keep your employees happy.

While employees may appreciate device choice, there's a much more personal reason behind the push for BYOD. Employees cite personal freedom as a major reason for wanting their own devices in the workplace. Corporate-owned hardware typically comes with usage policies that prevents personal use. That means checking Facebook or instant messaging is a no-no. Cisco says it found that 69 percent of BYOD users were using unapproved applications on these devices.

Simply put? It's much more difficult to track what your employees are doing when they're using their own devices. BYOD gives the employee the freedom to do as they wish.

This personal component seems to really be driving the BYOD phenomenon, but the need for mobile connectivity is also a factor. Cisco found that four in five white-collar employees use a mobile device in the course of their workday, with 65 percent of all white-collar workers requiring mobile connectivity in order to perform their jobs.

"As the number of devices being brought into work increases, organizations need a comprehensive mobility strategy", Cisco chief technology officer Padmasree Warrior says. Undoubtedly, this strategy needs to include some type of security component, as respondents listed security concerns as a top challenge in dealing with BYOD.

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