Workers increasingly expect to do their jobs anywhere, anytime, on any device. But according to the 2011 Forrester "State of the Workforce Technology Adoption" survey of 4,985 information workers, it's executives driving that advancement. While 35 percent of employees are all-day desktop users tethered to the office, 90 percent of executives regularly shuttle between work, travel and home.
The ability to switch between devices makes it easier to work from multiple locations. But workers aren't leaning on rich applications on smartphones. Forrester found 81 percent are using only email on their phones, not applications or collaboration tools. Forty-eight percent of respondents also said they buy whatever smartphone they want and use it for work purposes.
Gina Tomlinson, CTO for the City and County of San Francisco, says the city's mobile workers mostly use email. She is working on a bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) policy for the city but needs one that abides by the Sunshine Law, which calls for all government business to be conducted openly so the public has access. "One of the caveats to BYOT is that [we may be] opening up the device to the public; it's a delicate balance for us," she says.
But all companies will face their own security challenges. The survey shows 48 percent of respondents access confidential customer information and 40 percent view regulated information on a daily basis.
Matt Brown, VP and practice leader at Forrester Research, says many mobile security issues spring from device loss. "We see companies understanding the risks, but they can't mitigate all of them." He says companies have to consider where they are comfortable taking risks.
Forrester's survey also shows tablets are continuing to find a place in the enterprise. Twenty percent of mobile workers now use a tablet, and 90 percent of regular tablet users use the devices at the office.
Brown says that despite the numbers, he doesn't see a detachment from traditional laptops. "For that to go further, we will have to see technology like [Microsoft] Office be functional on those devices" he says.
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