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Study: Users Would Give Up Free Coffee To Get Better Mobile Device Access At Work

Some users would even trade a vacation day -- but is consumerization safe for enterprises?
Employees are ready to give up free coffee, free parking, or even a vacation day in order to get better access for their personal mobile devices in the workplace, according to a study released this week. But experts say "consumerization" of IT still poses a major risk for most enterprises.

The study, conducted by Kelton Research on behalf of Sybase Inc., shows that end users are becoming impatient with employers that restrict the use of mobile devices at work.

"This latest survey is a wake-up call for enterprises to broaden and accelerate their enterprise mobility strategies," said Dan Ortega, senior director of product marketing at Sybase. "Employees are beginning to have a much greater understanding of mobility, resulting in greater expectations from IT. We're seeing more demand for mobile-focused methods of productivity, such as being able to use a variety of devices in the workplace, or being able to gain access to corporate applications through an app store environment."

Seventy-one percent of the 500 survey respondents said they feel so strongly about using their own device that they are willing to give up at least one thing in the workplace in exchange for the ability to use it. Free coffee (58 percent) topped the list, followed by free food (39 percent) and office supplies (30 percent). Some were even willing to give up paid parking (26 percent), or a vacation day (20 percent).

Only 19 percent of participants strongly agree that their employers make it as easy for them to do their jobs from a mobile device as they can from a work computer. Almost half (44 percent) state that they don't have access to enough mobile applications to ensure they can do their jobs as well as they can from their work computers.

But security remains a key stumbling block to consumerization in the enterprise, the study says. More than a third (35 percent)of respondents said they send work-related emails or documents (32 percent) to their personal email accounts, or use their personal devices to access the company intranet from remote locations (29 percent).

Tom Kellermann, CTO at mobile security technology vendor AirPatrol, confirms that employees are continually pushing their companies to open up their mobile device access policies. But consumerization carries a heavy risk, he says.

"The mobile and wireless worlds are not civilized," Kellermann says. "There are threats from nation-states and from organized crime. There are leaks caused by employees who break policy, knowingly or not. There will be attacks on these devices -- it's inevitable."

Before they can allow employees to use personal devices in the workplace, organizations need to know more about where the devices are being used, who else is in proximity, and whether the users are following security policy, Kellermann says.

"There's a connection between physical security and logical security that needs to take place," Kellermann says. "You need some context and some situational awareness before you can allow the user to connect to the workplace environment."

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