“Bring Your Own Device” Evolving From Trend to Requirement

Here’s an unexpected twist in the growing trend at companies that support employees who bring their own devices to the office: By 2017, more than half of companies will require their employees to supply their own devices on the job.

The finding comes in a new report from Gartner containing the results of a survey of CIOs around the world. So it’s not for nothing that Gartner calls these BYOD strategies “the most radical change to the economics and culture of client computing” in a decade.

When you think about it, BYOD amounts to a pretty fundamental shift in the way companies handle the knotty questions around supplying employees the tools they need to get the job done. For years, standard operating procedure at pretty much every company was to give a computer and maybe a phone or BlackBerry to every employee who needed them, and for the company to bear the cost. (Gartner, incidentally, includes PCs in its BYOD definition.)

What started with an occasional request for the IT department to support smartphones and tablets with access to work email has blown up into a huge shift in the way that corporate IT services are supplied to employees.

Right now, Gartner said, mid-sized companies of $500 million to $5 billion in sales and 2,500 to 5,000 employees are most likely to be using a BYOD approach. BYOD-friendly companies are twice as common in the U.S. as in Europe, but employees in India, China and Brazil are most likely to be using a personal device on the job.

And if you’re looking for some figures to drive the point home, here’s one: 38 percent of companies expect to stop supplying employees with their devices entirely by 2016. But executives aren’t yet completely sold on the idea: Only 22 percent say they’ve made a good business case for adopting a BYOD move. There are, Gartner said, many benefits, not the least of which are lower costs and a happier work force.