Cisco: Prepare for BYOD or risk losing top new recruits

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Report shows Gen Y employees will demand more mobile connectivity in the workplace

A report from Cisco highlights the future growth in bring your own device and bring your own app trends, uncovering some of the expectations for the next generation of professionals.

Cisco’s second Connected World Technology Report shows that mobile devices are set to become even more important in the workplace.   According to the survey of 1,800 18-30 year old college students and young professionals, for many respondents the most desirable device for productivity in the workplace is not a desktop, or even laptop, but a smartphone.

Staying connected is “vitally important” to those belonging to what Cisco terms ‘Gen Y’, and many see smartphones as “indispensable”, the report highlights.  That the next generation is keen to access mobile connectivity for communication might not be earth-shattering – and of course Cisco is clearly hoping to benefit from the provisioning of networking to set up BYOD systems – but what is interesting is the appetite for mobile devices in the workplace, and the speed at which the previously ubiquitous desktop could be replaced by mobile devices.

Of the 18-30 year olds surveyed, just over thirty percent said that given the choice for just one piece of hardware to use in the workplace, they would pick a smartphone over any other device.

Slightly more, 34 percent, said that they would choose a laptop.

Smartphones were rated as twice as popular as desktop PCs, favoured by 22 percent and, perhaps unexpectedly, three times as popular as tablets.

What is driving this is a need to stay connected at all times Cisco said.

“If you look at the sales of smartphones and tablets, outstripping the sales of desktops last year for the first, we clearly see that trend continuing,” Chew said. “In the workforce, people are going to be looking for the level of connectivity, regardless of whether they are on a smartphone or a laptop, working from home or from an office.”

He said that security is a big consideration in terms of bringing mobile devices into the workplace.  
“In terms of infrastructure, what we need to be able to do is make sure that our security policies are sophisticated and flexible enough to support people on different devices in different environments.”

There are also concerns from the device user perspective, with the ease of use mobile devices in the workplace having a large impact on just how quickly changes occur.

What is potentially important is that putting BYOD and mobility systems in place could be key to attracting top level staff in future, Chew said, and this means organisations need to be prepared for any changes.

“If you want to attract the high calibre employees that are coming through, over time they will expect to have the same kind of access to applications and services in work in the same way as they would in their private lives,” he said.  “Companies are going to have to think about having the right kind of security and profile policies to support that over time.”

In addition there is another challenge on the horizon for IT staff, the prospect of bring your own device.

66 percent of respondents in the UK say that they find the use of applications important.  A significant proportion are using between one to nine apps, while 20 percent are using ten or more on a regular basis. Although, currently, 18 percent predominantly use apps for work purposes, Cisco expects this number to grow “dramatically”.  While this is likely to mean employees increasingly using apps developed by a company itself, there is also expected to be an increase in the number of third party apps.  This is likely to cause headaches for IT departments having to mitigate security risks.

However Chew expects attitudes to shift in future. “Over time people will take less draconian views on using common applications that are publicly available.”

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