Author(s): Nicholas McQuire
In August 2016, we surveyed 600 employees in the US and five countries in Western Europe about their attitudes to enterprise mobility. Such themes included mobile device and application usage and preferences, decision-making, governance procedures, brand affinity and relationships with IT departments.
The survey delivered important results that reflect some of the key market trends of 2016, with the top findings summarized below.
Employee Usage of Mobility Continues to Skyrocket as Apps and Devices Proliferate
The importance of mobile computing in the workplace is escalating as employees continue to demonstrate a growing dependency on mobile devices and apps.
The average total number of connected devices that employees use for either business or personal purposes has risen to 4.6, up from 4.1 in 2015. Usage is similar regardless of company size but notably higher among millennials, with this category accessing a staggering 5.8 connected devices per individual on average.
App usage is also growing rapidly: 86 percent of respondents cited regularly using mobile apps for work purposes and, in line with CCS Insight's 2015 survey, 41 percent of employees stated that mobile business apps are changing how they work. Almost a quarter of employees have requested a business app within their organisation, up from 19 percent a year ago.
Software-as-a-Service Apps Are on the Rise
The average number of mobile apps that employees use for work is now 4.1 — consistent across company size but, like device usage, notably higher among millennial employees.
However, only a third of apps used by employees were built by their companies, illustrative of a higher usage of cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps at work. We believe that these have become one of the most important trends in enterprise mobility in 2016.
The survey outlined that the top SaaS apps for work include Microsoft Office, used by 37 percent of respondents. Adobe, Skype, LinkedIn and WhatsApp were among other most-used apps at work according to employees.
Apple, Microsoft and Google Are the Top Mobile Workplace Brands
One of the most revealing survey questions indicating market trends asked, "When thinking specifically about mobile technology, what is the most critical brand to delivering your work on a day-to-day basis?". Apple topped responses with 48 percent of employees, Microsoft came second with 45 percent and Google was third with 33 percent. Google's popularity was significant among millennials, which could prove to be a key advantage in the company's growing competition with Microsoft in workplace productivity.
Results showed a notably limited presence of traditional workplace technology brands such as BlackBerry, Dell and IBM, which each failed to gather more than 10 percent of votes.
Top mobile technology brands in the workplace
Changing Cultural Demands in the Modern Workplace
Employees face growing expectations to be available out of the office, and this is fuelling the growth of mobile technology and of specific workplace brands.
A total of 66 percent of respondents stated that their customers expect them to be available outside of work hours, up from 60 percent in 2015. Additionally, 70 percent said their colleagues expect them to be available outside of work hours, versus 62 percent in 2015.
Fascinatingly, employees were strongly convinced that mobility usage is conducive to better business performance within their companies. Our survey showed that 89 percent of employees feel that mobile technology has had a positive effect on their company's overall performance, with 49 percent believing there has been a "substantially positive impact" despite the fact that most firms do not yet measure the main improvements from their investments in enterprise mobility.
Increasing IT Maturity with Mobility
Employees also indicated that organisations have matured in how they manage and deploy mobility. In 2015, we reported that responsibility for employee mobile technology was highly fragmented within many firms, which contributed to key challenges such as "shadow IT" and data leakage. Only 53 percent of companies surveyed in 2015 managed mobility at the IT function level, for example.
However, this number has now jumped to 81 percent. This constituted the largest rise in the survey's figures compared with 2015, and 35 percent of respondents claimed their organisations now have a dedicated mobility IT team providing direct support.
IT departments' efforts to implement policies for mobility have also improved, with 78 percent of employees stating that their company has a mobile IT policy in place compared with 71 percent in 2015. The number of firms implementing formal bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies has also grown: 25 percent of employees stated that their organisation has a formal BYOD programme in place, up from 17 percent a year ago.
Future Challenges Are Significant
Nevertheless, the survey revealed several significant mobility challenges that lie ahead for many organisations.
First, employees remain highly frustrated by poor connectivity and data speeds. These have become the single biggest problem users face with enterprise mobility, as cited by 32 percent of respondents.
Second, firms need to improve their mobility governance to prevent data leakage and compliance risk, and many organisations lack policies for purchasing, governing and requesting apps. Just 28 percent of employees reported having a private company app store as a place to go for business software. Under a third of employees require IT approval for purchasing apps, and below a quarter require IT approval for downloading free work apps.
Most employees stated that app approval occurs at either the departmental or individual level. This non-interventionist attitude to app policy is a main contributor to security risks in most organisations today.
A final challenge highlighted by CCS Insight's survey is the growing security and privacy concerns of employees. This is supported by the 71 percent of respondents who said they would be worried if their company required them to install software on a personal device used at work, in fear of a violation of their privacy. Nearly half of employees were concerned that their employer has visibility of everything they do on a work device.
What It All Means
CCS Insight's 2016 employee mobility survey provides important detail that validates many key technology trends occurring in the enterprise segment. Employee usage of mobile technology continues to skyrocket in most US and European firms, driven by rising expectations from customers and colleagues as well as employee preferences to be available outside of work hours.
Growing ownership and usage of devices and cloud-based mobile apps in the workplace highlights preferences for computing across multiple screens, cloud services and brands such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung. Most importantly, these preferences are not a fad, as most employees now believe that increased mobile technology in their workplace drives better business performance of their organisation.
Enterprises have also evolved in how they manage employee mobility. This is supported by a rising number of firms with a more centralised control of mobility by the IT team, and the larger number of companies that have implemented mobile policies since our previous survey in 2015.
However, the results also highlight significant challenges that many organisations will have to overcome to address changing user needs and security risks. Technology gaps in connectivity and app management tools, for example, will need to be filled. In addition, changes to organisational processes that improve communication and employee training in the critical areas of mobile app policy, employee privacy and data security will also be required.
We expect these to be some of the key focuses of IT strategists in the coming 12 months.