Home Business IT Business Telecommunications Australian employers 'œparalysed' in the face of consumerisation of IT
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A study funded by IT company Unisys has shown that while Australian employees' use of mobile devices at work has increased threefold over the past 12 months, employers have failed to proactively address the management and security challenges presented by the practice.

The 'Consumerist IT' study was conducted focusing on 301 information workers, that is to say on employees who use smartphones, tablets and social media for work purposes. It shows more and more Australian workers bring their own technology (BYOT) to work, instead of waiting for their organisation to either supply it or to issue usage policies.

Unisys Asia Pacific vice president and general manager of IT outsourcing, Lee Ward, said employers were 'paralysed' by the BYOT challenge, with security and IT support being the most concerning aspects of this phenomenon. She said big organisations feared private devices would threaten their network security.

'Over the last 12 months, employers have moved from 'blissful ignorance' to 'paralysed awareness' in the face of consumerisation of IT,' she said. 'They are more cognisant of the impact that mobile technologies and social media are having on their employees and their business, but are seemingly daunted by the perceived security risks and increased demand on IT resources and don't know where to begin to address the challenges'.

According to Unisys, big organisations have still a series of obstacles to overcome in order to deal with BYOT effectively. The study reported 74 percent of employers were concerned about security issues, with 64 percent of them citing viruses from social networks as a main worry.

Another area of concern for employers is the ability to provide IT support to consumer devices, without increasing the workload of IT departments. Ward said these concerns should be dropped. 'Ultimately, embracing the consumerisation trend requires a change in IT strategy,' Ward said. 'The fact that employers report that almost a third of the employees would troubleshoot personal-device issues themselves rather than go to the IT department suggests that there is a real opportunity to provide end-user support for consumer devices through new methods such as self-service portals'.

According to figures released by Unisys, in 2011 the percentage of Australian information workers, who declared their use of iPhones for work purposes, increased threefold, from 9 percent to 28. Similarly, 25 percent of workers declared to use iPads and other devices, up from 14 percent. However, 57 percent of Australian information workers maintained PCs were still the most critical piece of equipment they needed, and only 11 percent declared that iPads or other tablets would be the most useful devices for their work in 2012.

Moreover, the study reported that while Australian employers saw some benefits in BYOT initiatives in terms of budget cuts, they were only partially aware of the diffusion of the practice. For example, while 16 percent of the interviewed employees declared their use of iPads for work, employers said only 8 percent of their workers did so.

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