How BYO Device Policies Spread From Laptops To Phones

Bring-your-own device policies are increasingly replacing the traditional “IT will dictate what you can have” approach. It’s no surprise that the most popular brand of BYO phone in Australian corporate environments is the iPhone. But which one ranks second, and why are laptops still a more common choice than phones?

Picture by Arpit Gupta

The newly-launched Citrix BYO Index surveyed 700 CIOs across the globe, including 100 in Australia, to discover attitudes towards the increasingly common BYO approach, where companies let employees choose a device they want to work with. One notable finding was that laptops are actually the most common option for a personal device, found in 38% of Australian workplaces, as opposed to 32% where phones appear.

That seems a little odd, given that a phone is ultimately a more personal device. CIOs are predicting that within 12 months the balance will have switched, with 42% of personal device users picking phones and just 20% choosing laptops. Tablets are also expected to become more common over the next year (the current figure is 8%, but the prediction is 17%).

Amongst the phone users, iPhone dominates, with 58% of the market. BlackBerry is in second place with 19%, followed by Android with 17%. Australians are keener on the iPhone than any other country, which presumably reflects the fact that three separate carriers offer it locally.

Knowing that there a range of devices being used is one thing, but managing them is a more significant challenge. While 90% of CEOs recognised that BYO device practices happen in their organisations, just 40% currently have formal policies to manage that process. Again, that figure is predicted to rise to 75% within a year.

Security concerns are often cited as a reason to restrict device choice, but Citrix CIO Paul Martine suggests that once a business allows any kind of work-from-home policy, it has already created most of the infrastructure needed to enable broader device support. “If you can rationalise connecting remotely with a laptop, there’s a very clear path onto any of these other devices,” he told Lifehacker. “They’re just more unmanaged devices at the end of the day. Once you allow any sort of BYO computer program, you’re allowing unmanaged devices.”

That needn’t be a particularly time-consuming exercise: Martine said Citrix’s own internal policy took around three months to develop. “When we were going to implement a BYO approach, obviously we had the technology already. I spent a good amount of time trying to work on policy and procedure and having conversations with HR and legal. It took us a good 60 days to nail down what we were doing, and the communication out to the broad company took another 30 days But at the end of the day we got it down to 10 rules for the program. Most of the questions from employees were ‘What else is there?’”

What challenges do you face in trying to support a broader range of devices? Share your war stories in the comments.

Evolve is a weekly column at Lifehacker looking at trends and technologies IT workers need to know about to stay employed and improve their careers.

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