Industry Trends

Study: Gen-Y Would Break Rules For BYOD

By Stefanie Hoffman | June 19, 2012

Can you imagine life without your T.V.? Or a work environment without printers or desktop PCs? It might go without saying that as technology becomes more accepted, it also transitions from privilege to right for users. A recent Fortinet study illustrated that very concept.

A Fortinet survey released today found that Gen-Y employees in the workplace have an expectation—not a hope—that they will be able to use their own mobile smartphones and tablets for work-related activities. In fact, that expectation was the driving force for a critical mass of users who maintain they would go or have gone against company policy in order to use their own mobile device for work. And, like it or not, organizations will have to adapt if they want to stay competitive.

Altogether, the survey, which was conducted in 15 countries in May and June of 2012, examined more than 3,800 employees in their 20s about their attitudes pertaining to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), its impact on their work environment and their approach to their organization’s security.

What the survey revealed is that BYOD is going strong and only picking up steam. Specifically, BYOD is now a mainstream activity, underscored by almost three quarters (74 percent) of users who claim they use their personal mobile device for work. For more than half of users (55 percent) the ability to bring personal devices is in no uncertain terms a right—not a privilege.

“It’s an acute issue among this demographic,” says Kevin Flynn, Fortinet senior marketing manager. ”It’s an expectation. They see the ability to communicate as a right." ****

The reason? Perhaps the technological equivalent of a Swiss Army knife, devices such as smartphones and tablets arm users with scads of functions required for everyday life. Among their many capabilities, they allow users to access work and personal applications and an array of social media and other interactive tools—essentially giving users the ability to communicate with the world. In short, these devices become the gateway to just about everything. And their importance was made evident by the fact that more than a third (35 percent) of respondents admitted that they could not go a single day without accessing social networks while almost half (47 percent) contended that they were unable to last a day without SMS.

And they weren’t kidding. In fact, more than a third of respondents (36 percent) admitted they have or would go against a corporate policy banning the use of personally-owned devices for work purposes. That figure reached a peak in India, with 66 percent of users there admitting they have or would contravene company policy in order to use their devices.

In some ways, this critical mass of users charting their own course is tantamount to “history repeating itself” –representing a continuation of previous trends, in which the demand for technology helps shape and evolve the dynamic of workplace culture, Flynn says.

“Twenty-five years ago, workers were saying they wanted**** to use Lotus 123 for spreadsheets and Macs for desktop publishing. That was a major shift from the days of mainframes and dumb terminals,” Flynn says. “The users demanded technology to improve their productivity and get their work done faster. And IT had to adjust to that by providing the appropriate level of connectivity combined with proper network security." ****

Meanwhile, that burgeoning sense of entitlement undeniably will have a tremendous impact on an organization’s security posture and business environment. The majority of respondents (66 percent) consider themselves—not the company—to be responsible for the security of their device. And no doubt, that's a finding that could have significant security implications for companies while creating untold headaches for IT administrators.

That attitude also transcends mobile devices down to the applications users want to use. For non-approved applications, figures remain about the same, with about 30 percent of all respondents admitting they have or would intentionally violate company policy that restricts their use. Even still, that figure might soon be on an upswing. As if IT didn’t have their hands full, 69 percent of respondents maintained they were interested in Bring Your Own Application (BYOA), in which users create and use their own custom applications for work.

Subsequently, many organizations might be facing an uphill battle in attempting to implement security policies regulating the array of disparate devices and plethora of applications that pass through the doors of their network.

Yet, in some ways, the path is clear—** **those organizations that accommodate and enable the barrage of personal devices entering through their doorways will automatically have a competitive advantage over those that don’t, Flynn says.

Meanwhile, network security will be key in making that happen, which will serve to help simplify an increasingly complex problem, Flynn says.

“Our world is going to get more complex, period. It’s all the more reason to have an ****integrated, simplified approach to the security problem,” he says.

And what of organizations who try to resist? Try as they might, they too will have to adjust to accommodate BYOD’s unstoppable forward motion or be bulldozed by competitors in the process.

“If history is any judge, they will have to,” Flynn says.

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