Bring your own device doesn’t include computers: HP

CALGARY – Bring your own device? If it’s a tablet or a smartphone, sure, but not if it’s a laptop. That’s the conclusion of research commissioned by Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co. (NYSE: HPQ) to dive deeper into the popular bring your own device (BYOD) trend.

The BYOD phenomenon sees employees choosing their own device (either with their own funds or subsidized in whole or in part by the employer) and using it for both business and personal purposes, rather than being locked into a corporate standard device issued by IT. Employees get to use the device of their choice and employers save on acquisition costs, although BYOD does raise issues for the enterprise around security and support.

The BYOD trend has become prevalent though, and was a popular topic at distributor Tech Data Canada’s TechSelect conference this week. IDC Canada analyst David Senf noted that 60 per cent of Canadian organizations are forming or have formed BYOD policies, and BYOD is expected to fuel the mobility and tablet market to growth of 17 per cent this year. And vendors such as McAfee positioned BYOD as an opportunity partners can address with their offerings; in this case, data security and mobile device management.

However, does BYOD include laptop computers, or is it just tablets and smartphones? Is there a bring your own computer (BYOC) trend? That’s the question HP wanted to answer by commissioning independent research of Canadian SMB owners and employees on the topic said John Cammalleri, HP Canada’s vice-president, personal systems group, SMB and reseller sales.

“There’s a distinct difference between bringing your own device and bringing your own computer,” said Cammalleri. “BYOD includes smartphones and tablets and that’s definitely happening, no question about it. What we wanted to know is if there’s a link between that and bring your own computer.”

The results of the report say that’s a resounding no. Just 15 per cent of SMB owners and managers currently allow employees to bring their own computer to work, the report found. And 75 per cent of SMB owners said they had no intention of adopting BYOC in the future.

“There’s not a megatrend happening,” said Cammalleri.

If there’s no BYOC push from employers, there doesn’t seem to be a BYOC pull from employees either. Just five per cent of respondents with a personal laptop said they would bring it to work to conduct business activities. And when asked what would encourage them to bring their PC to work, 71 per cent said nothing would.

“Sometimes in the market you have push that creates a trend, and sometimes a pull, but there seems to be a lack of interest on both the employee and management side here,” said Cammalleri. “I’m not here to say things will never change, but this is what the data is telling us.”

When asked why they were so resistant to BYOC, 63 per cent of SMB employees said they wanted to keep their personal and work lives separate, and 52 per cent said they didn’t want their employer to have access to their personal files.

“Not that I have bizarre files on my home PC, because I don’t, but I’m not comfortable with having my files scanned by a process that resides within the company I work for,” said Cammalleri. “It’s nobody’s business. It’s my business.”

On the employer side, there’s also the question of what happens when a personal device breaks. When it’s a work-issued device, there’s staff and process. When it’s a personal device, who is responsible for getting the device fixed, and how much productivity is lost?

“And when an employee leaves an organization who is responsible for that data, and who needs to clean that device?” asks Cammalleri. “These are all very real things these folks are concerned about.”

There is an opportunity for the channel here though, said Cammalleri, but it’s not about the device. It’s about the data. Employees want to have access to their work data from a variety of devices, both personal and work-issued, and the opportunity for channel partners is to enable that access and keep the personal and work data separate.

“It’s really about accessing data and getting information. That’s what people want,” said Cammalleri. “They’re OK with keeping things a little separate. They just want to access information from whatever device they have.”

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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