How things have changed! Last year, Forrester surveyed more than 5,000 information workers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Among the findings:
- 25 percent of those workers are using a smartphone for work, and roughly 10 percent of them are choosing and paying for it themselves
- Millions of workers use laptops at work, but only 5 percent of them provision it themselves; however, 21 percent said they would prefer to a single laptop for both work and personal use.
- 5 percent of those surveyed are using a tablet such as the iPad at work
The data for the Forrester report was gathered a year ago, which means it's likely that the use of consumer devices, particularly tablets, has increased in the workplace. Indeed, a survey of information workers by IDC found that the use of employee-owned devices is soaring. In 2010, roughly 30 percent of those surveyed used their own PC or smartphone at work; by 2011, that number had increased to about 40 percent.
While laptops are far and away the device employees rely on the most -- 49 percent -- tablets are gaining ground. In just two years, they've become the most critical tool for 9 percent of those surveyed, compared to the 6 percent who said their smartphone is most important, according to the IDC survey, which was sponsored by Unisys.
Employees are good at do-it-yourself tech
The good news is that employees are finding innovative ways to use those tools to make themselves and their employers more competitive. And they're doing it with or without the blessing of IT. That's only possible because the new breed of consumer technology is so simple that employees don't need much, or even any, help. Forrester found that 37 percent of the employees they surveyed are using do-it-yourself technologies without IT's permission. (Again, those numbers may well be higher now.)
As Schadler wrote in the Harvard Business Review: "LinkedIn, Google Docs, Smartsheet.com, Facebook, iPads, YouTube, Dropbox, Flipboard -- the list is long and growing. Many of these scenarios are do-it-yourself projects. For example, want to ask me business questions on Facebook? Piece of cake; I'll just friend you. Personal iPhones for email, apps, and Internet access outside my clients' door? Check. Google Sites and Docs to exchange documents with partners? Sure, I can spin up a free site or IT can spend the $50 per user per year and make it secure. YouTube to post fix-it-yourself videos for tough service problems? My kid's good with a Flip camera. She can film me doing the fix myself." (Those are all real examples, he adds.)
Letting employees do it themselves not only benefits the various lines of business, it also benefits IT, says PwC's Garland. "In effect, extending IT decision making to users expands IT's reach and capabilities without requiring more IT staff -- a real benefit given how much IT has needed to cut during the recent recession."
A PwC white paper published late last year on consumerization said, "CIOs of companies that have allowed Macintosh computers, for example, into their workplaces tell PwC that they typically find those users support themselves and each other. The same is true of iOS and Android mobile users, users of software as a service [SaaS] and other cloud services, and social networking users."