Smart phones, tablets ‘most personal accessory’ in IT: IDC
In a Web cast discussing the burgeoning trend towards bring your own device (BYOD) in the enterprise workplace, analysts said more and more employees want to use personal devices as well as, or even instead of, company-provided ones.

David Senf, research director of infrastructure solutions for Toronto-based IDC Canada Ltd., said bringing devices from home “allow the end user to have far more control than they have ever had in the past.”

What that means to the end user is that “I can bring in the device that suits me. I can bring in the applications I want and I can get those in the way I want to get them, immediately,” Senf said.

The conference focused on the kinds of issues that crop up when employees start taking personal devices into the workplace. Bring your own device (BYOD) isn’t new. Before smart phones and tablets, IT teams worried about personal e-mail and cellphones, then instant messaging, mp3 players and flash sticks and now, “the possibility to be able to leak a lot more information from an organization,” Senf said.

“The consumerization of IT,” Senf says, will be far reaching. Beyond changes in security policy, more personal devices could actually lead to less business investment in PCs. Senf said if employees are allowed, or even requested to bring their own computers or tablets, there would be no need for huge fleets of customized desktops.

Tony Olvet, group vice-president of research domains for IDC Canada and host of the panel, said the empowerment of the end user can also lead to a power struggle between the IT team and BYODers. The more diverse and powerful end user devices become, the more difficult it will be for IT to constrain them within the network securely.

Olvet also said this is something that business needs to address, pointing to IDC projections that the volume of smart phones in Canada will hit 10 million by 2015 and media tablets two million by the same point. He explained the boom by calling the media device, “perhaps the most personal accessory that anyone has ever seen in the industry.”

Polls were solicited during the conference and most notably 76.3 per cent of respondents said the greatest change in the move towards BYOD would be security.

Recently, the City of Guelph, in Ontario, upgraded its network to reflect its new BYOD policy. The mentality was that, since devices were already signing in to the network and they were impossible to track and lock down, the IT department at the City of Guelph had to react. The good news is, according to Shibu Pillai, network security specialist with the City of Guelph, because of the upgrades “there’s (now a) tremendous amount of reduction in administrative effort—the hours that we put in it—(and it) also really augments our security effort that we put into the security network.”

Krista Napier, senior analyst of Canadian digital media and emerging technology for IDC Canada says not all companies are prepared for this inevitability. The proliferation of mobile devices and tablets has actually forced companies to revise its policies on a device-specific basis. It’s also forced companies to support multiple operating systems, Napier said.

–With files from Kathleen Lau