why do we bring our own devices to work?

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Strategy Analytics recently revealed that four out of ten tablets purchased for use at work are being purchased by people with cash out of their own pocket. That’s a statistic which absolutely confirms we’re seeing rapid consumerization of enterprise IT. And it suggests the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is driven by something very powerful. 

satisfaction’s what you need

After all, why are employees prepared to part with cold, hard cash in order to invest in machines to use at work? Part of the answer lies in user experiences of these devices -- people like their tablets, they really like them. 

For example, a recent Software Usability Research Survey confirms iPad satisfaction levels are sky-high -- in the region of 83%. And because people like using these things at home they want to use them at work.

This has pushed the employee into the driving seat, or so it seems:
 
- 96 % of businesses have at least on iPad in use (Aberdeen Group).
- 60 % of companies already permit BYOD (Forrester)
- SAP now has over 3,000 corporate-owned iPhones and 14,000 iPads
 
It’s not just coming from the workers. We are witnessing huge changes in enterprise technology. At the very highest levels executives are pushing for the BYOD culture. (50% of CIOs will purchase tablets for employees in 2012, says Morgan Stanley).  
 

ringing the change

Citing Forrester Research, Silicon.com tells us businesses are likely to spend $16 billion on iPads and $12 billion on Macs in 2013. That’s less than the $68 billion the analysts expect will be spent on Windows, but given Apple’s previous position in the enterprise (it wasn’t there), it represents a significant change.

Is it just because people like using these things? No. That’s because there’s a tangible business case for allowing employees to use the tools they prefer to do their job: Cisco claims it reduced its internal technology costs 20%, just through launching a BYOD scheme. 

Then you have the always-on, 24/7 nature of business today (33% of executives check their email in the middle of the night, for example). Then you have notions of mobility, connectivity and productivity. ("By 2016, at least 50% of enterprise email users will rely primarily on a browser, tablet or mobile client instead of a desktop client,” informs Gartner.)
 

the hierachy of needs

Arguably, the move to consumerize IT could be seen as the technological realization of the importance of personal autonomy within the workplace, as defined within Abraham Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’. Applied to the work environment, his theory claims work isn’t just about earning money, it’s also about self-actualization as defined by personal growth, improvement, autonomy and fulfillment. 

Autonomy means choice, and the fact that so many employees are voting with their wallets to buy the devices they most desire from their own funds for use in the work environment is clear illustration that they are indeed taking their own choices. 

The trend to BYOD improves job satisfaction, commitment and productivity, because it allows individuals to take charge of one key element of their workplace existence - the tools they use to do their job.
 
This seems to be the case as an iPass survey of 1,100 mobile workers revealed: “Employees who use mobile devices for both work and personal issues put in 240 more hours per year than those who do not.”
Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.