As bring your own device (BYOD) programmes become more popular, 38 percent of companies expect to stop providing devices to workers by 2016, according to a global survey of CIOs by analyst Gartner.
The survey found that while BYOD is occurring in companies and governments of all sizes, it is most prevalent in midsize and large organisations ($500 million to $5 billion in revenue, with 2,500 to 5,000 employees). But Gartner said BYOD also permits smaller companies to go mobile without a huge device and service investment.
Adoption varies widely across the world, shows the research, with companies in the US 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 at work, typically a standard mobile phone.
"BYOD strategies are the most radical change to the economics and the culture of client computing in business in decades," said Gartner analyst David Willis. "The benefits of BYOD include creating new mobile workforce opportunities, increasing employee satisfaction, and reducing or avoiding costs."
But, added Willis: "The business case for BYOD needs to be better evaluated. Most leaders do not understand the benefits and only 22 percent believe they have made a strong business case.
"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."
How a well-managed BYOD programme subsidises the use of a personal device is critical, said Gartner, 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", said the analyst.
Gartner believes that with the coupling of 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," said 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."