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SMBs struggle to keep up with consumerisation trend

Employees increasingly use their own devices for work, but organisations are failing to respond

Staff at a quarter of small and medium businesses (SMBs) are now using their personal smartphones and tablets for work, but more than two thirds of those businesses have no controls in place to manage these devices, and 45 percent of IT managers are unaware of all the devices being used.

These was among the findings of a new global study by virtualisation specialist Citrix, carried out in conjunction with YouGov and Research Now. While businesses that do adopt flexible working practices are seeing productivity gains of up to 36 percent, many are being held back by the security implications of employees using personal devices for business.

"The nature of work continues to change," said Brett Caine, senior vice president and general manager of Citrix. "Employees are using new consumer devices in the workplace for both business and personal use. Organisations need to respond to this trend by developing policies to address new mobile work styles that can drive productivity through more flexible working, while safeguarding the use of data and sensitive information."

The survey polled more than 1100 senior executives and IT managers across Australia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, and the United States between May and August 2011. Of those polled, 35 percent said they are under greater pressure to adopt workforce flexibility practices, including flexibility in the devices used and places employees work.

In the UK, 45 percent of firms surveyed allowed employees to use their own devices for business purposes, bringing productivity improvements of more than 10 percent. However, 57 percent have no policies, procedures or IT systems in place to manage the use of personal devices for business, and only half are aware of all the devices their staff are using for business purposes - although this is well ahead of the European average of 43 percent.

"Enabling support, monitoring and managing remote and mobile workers is now a de facto requirement for IT to ensure highly productive and effective businesses," said Elizabeth Cholawsky, vice president and general manager of IT Services for Citrix.

The 'consumerisation of IT' has been identified by analysts as a key trend for the coming years, yet many IT managers feel they lack the necessary tools to properly manage personal devices. In a study of mobile device management products by analyst firm Gartner in July, Zenprise, Mobile Active Defense and MobileIron scored highest overall in various use cases, and Good Technology was still the best single email-centric solution for secure enterprise mobile email.

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