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The good news about the bring your own device (BYOD) trend is that it enables employees to do company work anytime, anywhere. The bad news: we’ve only started to understand the impact and size of this wave which, as it turns out, is not just about mobile devices.

A new survey from Citrix points out that the percentage of BYOD laptops and desktops will increase to 25 percent next year from its current level of 18 percent. 

Thousands of Apps?

The report, “Citrix Mobility Report: A Look Ahead,” looks at several key components of the BYOD wave. In the process, it revises a few other assumptions. For instance, with the huge growth of BYOD, it would stand to reason that mobile apps are becoming commonplace, perhaps even dominant, in the workplace.

However, the report points out that business apps are still mostly Windows-based, not native mobile apps for Android, iOS or BlackBerry. But Windows dominance is shrinking. This year, 64 percent of apps in the office were Windows-based, but that is expected to drop to 54 percent next year, while mobile apps rise from 6 percent to 9 percent in the same period. Interestingly, HTML5/Web apps, which can run across platforms and are arguably the real threat to the dominance of Windows apps, are expected to grow to 23 percent from the current 20 percent.

Then there’s the number of apps that IT departments need to support, which one might assume has begun to stabilize in most companies. Currently, the most important mobile app for organizations is still email, including calendar and contacts, followed in order by line-of-business apps, file syncing and sharing, collaboration tools, secure browsers and SharePoint access.

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More than 40 percent of responding enterprise IT users said they expected to manage more than 100 apps in 2014, which one might think would cover the tasks that any one company’s employees might need to address. But 21 percent of respondents thought that number could reach more than 1,000. The report doesn’t answer the question of why an organization’s workers would use so many disparate apps. Wouldn't they simply coalesce around a common set of apps, given that the simplest way to share data, collaborate and be on the same functional page would be to use the same set of apps?

Coming Confusion

Given these numbers, the report points to the real possibility “a state of app confusion” will take over in many companies, as they try to decide:

Learning Opportunities

  • Should we wait to support an app until a native mobile or cloud version is available?
  • When apps are created internally, which platforms should they support?
  • Should a company stop native mobile app development and instead choose HTML5- or cloud-based ones?
  • What kind of organizations or processes do we need to support such a diverse app environment?

The Citrix survey found 66 percent of organizations have a corporate strategy in place for devices, 56 percent for mobile apps and only 41 percent for cloud data. The most important strategic component? Flexibility.

Get Ready

Security is among the top concerns that IT departments have about mobile devices, especially mobile devices they didn’t select and don’t control. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they were “very concerned” about corporate information living in apps stored on BYOD devices. But, nevertheless, companies need to find solutions, which is why mobile management suites have started touting their ability to securely manage BYOD devices as well as their own devices.

Citrix itself has the XenMobile mobile device management suite for managing BYOD devices, a growing category that also includes IBM’s Tivoli, MobileIron and BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

This report hits only some highlights about the state of BYOD, but it seems that each new report peels back another layer as IT departments try to cope. One gets the feeling that this is only the first wave of BYOD.

What happens when, say, BYOD starts to include the new, booming customized Android OS movement, such as CyanogenMod? The CyanogenMod trend could mean an infinite number of Android variations. What about when do-it-yourself app-making really takes hold? That could exponentially raise the stakes, unless cloud-based apps lessen the number that IT must support while increasing the company’s security exposure.

As 2014 approaches, fasten your seatbelts.