Start-ups have been urged to not deter staff from bringing their own smartphones or tablets into the workplace, following a new study that shows most large businesses are wary of the practice.
Research from IT company Unisys is based on a global survey of 2,609 “iWorkers” and 590 business and IT decision-makers, including 307 iWorkers and 79 decision-makers in Australia.
It’s important to note 90% of the survey respondents are from organisations with at least 1,000 employees.
The research found IT support for company-owned smartphones and tablets in Australian organisations has nearly doubled in the past year.
However, support for staff ‘bring your own’ (BYO) devices has fallen from 24% to 15%.
According to the research, bosses are reluctant to let staff bring their own devices to work because they believe it will lead to a surge in demand for IT support.
But it seems this concern is unjustified – 60% of employees said they are more likely to troubleshoot any IT-related problem themselves, while 14% said they would ask a friend.
Online entrepreneur Fred Schebesta, founder of Finder.com.au, was critical of the research.
Schebesta says start-ups shouldn’t prohibit staff from bringing their own devices to work, insisting “we just let people use whatever they want”.
However, he says there are some things every start-up needs to consider.
“The first thing is you need to ensure that your system, whatever you’re using, is purely online. If it’s not purely online, you will have problems because you need to standardise the operating system,” Schebesta says.
“If it’s purely online, the web browsers are all the same on the computers”.
“The second thing is that you do want to consider some sort of backup. You’re going to need some sort of system like Google Drive or Dropbox to ensure you can keep your files backed up.”
“The only other thing I’d suggest you consider is you do need some way to store all the passwords. You need to use some sort of system to do that.”
“There are some good ones… I use a program called the RoboForm or there’s a new one called Passkey.”
Schebesta believes the BYO device trend is an opportunity for start-ups to appeal to new and existing workers.
“You can turn it into a staff encouragement thing, if that makes sense,” he says.
“So if they want some sort of special computer or special way of doing their work, it might cost a bit more but at the same time they’re really appreciative of you going that extra mile.”
“I wouldn’t say we have a very high IT bill at all because it’s all online – it’s all standardised that way.”
Similarly, Lee Ward, general manager of IT outsourcing for Unisys Asia Pacific, told News.com.au there is a missed opportunity with the BYO device trend because companies don’t have to pay for the devices.
“It seems to be that some companies are providing more devices for people rather than expecting them to do a BYOD,” Ward said.
“That’s a missed opportunity if you’re rolling out iPads to everyone but they’ve already got one at home.”