The global survey of CIOs by Gartner's Executive Programmes indicates the BYOD trend is most prevalent in midsize and large organisations, which has been defined as $500m to $5bn in revenue, with 2,500 to 5,000 employees.
BYOD allows employees, business partners and other users to use a personally selected and purchased client device to execute enterprise applications and access data. It typically spans smartphones and tablets, but the strategy may also be used for PCs.
BYOD, often labelled 'Consumerisation of IT', permits smaller companies to go mobile without a huge device and service investment, though adoption varies widely across the globe. Companies in the United States are twice as likely to allow BYOD as those in Europe, where BYOD has the lowest adoption of all the regions.
In contrast, employees in India, China and Brazil are most likely to be using a personal device, typically a standard mobile phone, at work. The Middle East's receptivity for BYOD was recorded at 80% in a 2012 study by networking vendor Aruba Networks – one of the highest rates globally.
"BYOD strategies are the most radical change to the economics and the culture of client computing in business in decades," says David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
"The benefits of BYOD include creating new mobile workforce opportunities, increasing employee satisfaction, and reducing or avoiding costs," he adds.
The study finds that BYOD drives innovation for CIOs and the business by increasing the number of mobile application users in the workforce. Rolling out applications throughout the workforce presents myriad new opportunities beyond traditional mobile email and communications. Applications such as time sheets, punch lists, site check-in/check-out, and employee self-service HR applications are just a few examples. Expanding access and driving innovation will ultimately be the legacy of the BYOD phenomenon.
"2013 will be the biggest year yet for enterprise mobility, and the MENA region needs to be ready and able to embrace an unwired 'anytime, anywhere' mentality," says Deniz Kilyar, Head of Line of Business & Mobility Solutions, SAP MENA, who delivered several keynotes at last month's Mobile Show Middle East in Dubai.
"More data was generated in the last five years than in the entire history of mankind. There are now more mobile devices than people on the planet. Everywhere you look, enterprise mobility is undergoing an unprecedented boom, making it an unavoidable imperative for businesses that want to lead. Increasingly, those that cannot operate with nimble and efficient ubiquity will face competitive stagnation," Kilyar explains.
BYOD benefits misunderstood?
Gartner's Willis admits the business case for BYOD needs to be better evaluated, with most leaders not understanding the benefits. Just 22% believe they have made a strong business case.
"Like other elements of the Nexus of Forces (cloud, mobile, social and information), mobile initiatives are often exploratory and may not have a clearly defined and quantifiable goal, making IT planners uncomfortable. If you are offering BYOD, take advantage of the opportunity to show the rest of the organisation the benefits it will bring to them and to the business," he says.
How a well-managed BYOD programme subsidises the use of a personal device is critical, and can dramatically change the economics. Today, roughly half of BYOD programmes provide a partial reimbursement, and full reimbursement for all costs will become rare. Gartner believes that coupling the effect of mass market adoption with the steady declines in carrier fees, employers will gradually reduce their subsidies and as the number of workers using mobile devices expands, those who receive no subsidy whatsoever will grow.
"The enterprise should subsidise only the service plan on a smartphone," says Willis. "What happens if you buy a device for an employee and they leave the job a month later? How are you going to settle up? Better to keep it simple. The employee owns the device, and the company helps to cover usage costs," he added.
BYOD does increase the risk of a security breach, with issues such as social engineering and mobile malware, and provides a significant challenge for CIOs to overcome. Unsurprisingly, security is the top concern when it comes to BYOD.
The risk of data leakage on mobile platforms is particularly acute. Some mobile devices are designed to share data in the cloud and have no general purpose file system for applications to share, increasing the potential for data to be easily duplicated between applications and moved between applications and the cloud.