news Australian organisations are increasingly allowing their staff to use their own software at work, in a trend being dubbed “Bring Your Own Apps” or BYOA, according to a new survey of Australian chief information officers and other senior IT staff.
In a statement released yesterday, analyst firm Telsyte said it had recently surveyed more than 800 CIOs and senior IT decision-makers on a variety of issues. “A key finding was BYOA is now becoming part of the working life of many business people, as more people use personal devices that are often tightly integrated with mobile and cloud apps,” the firm said.
Popular BYOA software used for business include: data backups and storage (Dropbox, iCloud); calendaring; collaboration (GoToMeeting, WebEx); voice communications (Skype); project and task management (Remember the Milk); productivity (Pages, QuickOffice Pro); multimedia; and note taking (Evernote).
The company found that 28 per cent of Australian businesses allow some form of BYOA (business apps), with this trend expected to rapidly grow over coming years and is closely linked to the so-called ‘BYOD’ trend for ‘Bring Your Own Device’, where employees are increasingly using their own laptops, tablets and smartphones at work. However, the unsanctioned use of BYOA is also expected to be significantly higher.
Telsyte senior analyst Rodney Gedda said the amount of apps people can bring to a work environment is being driven by software as a service and mobile offerings, with Apple’s iOS and Google Android mobile operating systems putting thousands of easy to use apps at people’s fingertips. Gedda said it was “inevitable that people would use this kind of apps for both business and personal purposes. “The challenge for enterprise IT departments is balancing the productivity gains of BYOA with the security and business continuity risks,” he said.
“The purchase of public cloud services by staff without company IT intervention is sometimes referred to as “credit card IT”, where end-users in business divisions purchase apps and services to manage their information needs unilaterally,” Telsyte said in its statement.
According to Telsyte, BYOA will become the focal point for businesses and even outstrip BYOD as cost of smartphones and media tablets decreases and the diversity of consumer cloud apps increases. “BYOA is a significant trend in the consumerisation of IT, but IT departments can also work with many of the public apps to investigate wider corporate deployments if the apps are popular and meet company objectives” Gedda said.
BYOA benefits include a low barrier to entry as many public apps are free or low cost and generally users experience high levels of reliability and usability. Conversely, BYOA has its own set of risks, including the security of the information in addition to providers not being able to guarantee the long term viability of a product, or offer enterprise level service level agreements (SLA).
BYOA has a long, long, history within corporate IT departments. Wherever I have worked, I have always considered it one of my first tasks within my first month on the job to make friends with whoever is in charge of desktop PC administration in that organisation’s IT department, so I can get them to unlock my desktop PC for admin access. This allows me to install my usual set of apps — ranging from Chrome and Firefox for web access, to Winamp for listening to music at work, the GIMP for image editing, Notepad++ for text editing, Audacity for sound editing, Tweetdeck for social media monitoring and so on and so on. I have also, in the past, even brought in hardware such as my own (higher quality) keyboards and mice, a second monitor, and even better office chairs.
Without these tools, I am nowhere near as productive as I would be otherwise. And we’re talking at least an hour a day wasted as I have grappled with unwieldy corporate alternatives to these awesome (and mostly open source) tools.
Consider this. You’re going to be sitting in the same position using the same PC for years on end, 40-odd hours a week. Why should you have to use the default systems (hardware or software) which the organisation you work for provides for you? Why not set up a much more customised system with access to better tools? This approach has always saved me hundreds of hours each year on gained productivity, and I’m sure it does many others as well. Smart companies realise this factor and facilitate it; dumb companies try and block it as non-confirmity to their control scheme.
The smartphone and tablet revolutions merely add another dimension to this philosophy. Again, smart companies (safely) expose elements of their internal systems to their employees’ personal computing devices. It makes sense in 2012 for most organisations to allow staff to access calendaring, email, unified communications and even many corporate apps such as CRM or directory platforms through their employees’ personal devices. Again, those that block this access will suffer a frustrated and unproductive workforce.