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Analyst firm IDC (news, site) has released a new study on the consumerization of information technology (IT) within the enterprise that indicates workers are increasingly using personally owneddevices like smartphones and tablets to perform work on behalf of their companies. The trend is also driving adoption of social media applications for business purposes.

Employees Want Their Gadgets and Want Them Now

It wasn’t long ago that corporate employees used whatever technology IT  assigned to them and they liked it (in my best grouchy old man voice). However, the environment has changed. According to the latest study from IDC, consumer technologies -- tools that employees purchase or technology used as a part of their personal life -- are increasingly being leveraged within corporate walls.

IDC studied employees who use PCs, smartphones and/or tablets for work, or iWorkers as the study termed them, to determine how consumer technologies are being used in the workplace. The study included more than 3,000 information workers and business executives in nine countries. The data shows that there has been a 10 percent increase in the last 12 months of personal devices being used for work purposes.

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Study participants predicted that tablets, which didn’t even exist 15 months ago, will grow more important than any other consumer device for completing work by 2012. The same is true for social media. The same applications workers are using to share family photos are now increasingly being used to engage customer communications, market products and perform market research.

Taking Office Work into the Home

The data also shows that it isn’t just personal technology bleeding into the office. The office is bleeding into home.


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Mobility is driving many of the trends. Workers are trying to squeeze every drop of productivity out of their day by fitting work in at every opportunity from commuting to while “relaxing” on the couch in front of the latest reality T.V. show. It’s no longer sufficient to only respond to emails between 8:00 and 6:00 when at a desk.

Is Consumerization a Good Thing?

Although enterprises mostly agree that allowing employees to use their own devices is a good thing because it allows them to be more productive and reduces internal costs, the consumerization move is not without challenges. Consumerization increases IT complexity; companies have more devices and more applications to understand and manage. Many do not have policies and procedures in place to adequately deal with the influx of different devices. The study data shows that security threats are by far the largest area of concern.

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Despite the challenges and complexity of consumer technology adoption, IT leaders would be well advised to figure out how to support the trend.  Potential and existing customers as well as partners are beginning to expect the faster responsiveness that many of these consumer technologies offer.

Are you currently using your personal cell phone or tablet for work? Does your company have an official policy around this or do you just do it? We’d love to hear from you.