More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD

Sudha Nagaraj Bharadwaj, Journalist | 11/9/2012 | 14 comments

Sudha Nagaraj Bharadwaj
The growth of the smartphone and tablet market may be encouraging the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend in India. Will allowing employees to use devices and applications of their choice lead to a happier and more efficient workforce? A new research commissioned by VMware says "yes."

According to the New Way of Work Study 2012, conducted across 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, there is evidence that working on personal smartphones and tablets, and using social media, actually make people more productive at the workplace.

This is especially true in India, where 82 percent of employees are provided with a portable device from their employer, but 77 percent still bring their own device to work to help them complete their tasks. Of this group, 72 percent claimed to be more productive when they worked on the device of their choice, and 70 percent claimed to be happier in their role when they were allowed to use a device of their choice. 66 percent say they feel less stressed when they can choose the IT tools they use.

Indian workers also indicated that the need to be mobile and connected was firing their desire to use personal mobile devices at work. This is demonstrated by high incidences of employees in India bringing their personal smartphones (78 percent) to the workplace, followed by laptops (53 percent), and tablets (17 percent). The research shows that many respondents are actually working outside the office; 79 percent are working from home and 53 percent on the road, which is considerably higher than the average across the region.

In fact, 47 percent of the Indian workers among the respondents felt their work environments were restricting their ability to use their own portable device. (Specifically, this group consists of 2,077 people, ages 18 to 64 years old, who worked in organizations with more than 1,000 staff globally for at least 15 hours or more a week across Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, China, Japan, and South Korea.) Thus, current IT policies in Indian companies on use of personal devices actually lowered their potential work efficiency.

There are many reports that are equally gung-ho about BYOD in India: The Cisco Connected World Technology Report, the Citrix Workplace of the Future, the Accenture CIO Mobility Survey, and so on. There is no denying we are still on the hype-cycle, but if the virtual worker is really dictating work policy, how are organizations responding at the ground level?

CIOs seem to be graduating from the initial stage of creating "permitted devices" lists, and are now focusing on securing the infrastructure. This shift in BYOD tactics is partly a reaction to protests from lower-paid employees.

ThoughtWorks India gives employees $1,000 each to buy a device. Citrix offers an optional taxable $2,100 stipend to acquire devices; those who do not avail the offer still come in with their own devices.

Where mobility is not central to all functions, companies are permitting BYOD for select functions. For example, ING Life Insurance provides access to corporate email accounts, contact lists, and intranets to its sales staff, and encourages field workers to use personal laptops and notebooks on the company network.

With security being the main worry, the possibility of a device not managed by the IT department accessing the corporate network with basic Active Directory authentication is real. Hence, network level intelligence is required. Flipkart, a cloud-based company with Web-based applications, has put in place data and network access policies that do not store any key information on an employee’s device.

In order to enable seamless functioning of integrated enterprise apps across multiple devices, some companies are also investing in mobile device management platforms and mobile application delivery software. SAP Labs India is a case in point.

There are some, like CSC India, that adopt stringent data loss prevention practices. If an employee’s device is lost, all the data is deleted remotely through a central command center.

Those in the BFSI sector who are especially wary about mobile threats fall back on virtual desktop infrastructure. SBI Capital Markets, where 90 percent of the employees use Blackberry and 10 percent use tablets, vouches for VDI as an ideal solution to isolate corporate data from the end user’s personal environment, while enabling the organization to deliver existing applications without making major upgrades.

While it seems like organizations in India are following a generally ad-hoc manner, the very essence of BYOD is in each player having a unique approach. As long as Indian CIOs also remember to finalize end-user contracts with employees who wish to access corporate resources in exchange for some level of control over device, there should be no great mishap.

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michaelsumastre   More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD   11/30/2012 1:31:45 AM
Re: Re : More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD
Sudha, speaking of threats, BYOD can also bring a good amount of it. My assumption is if it's a company-sponsored mobile device, by the time you leave your job, you return it. This way, the data remains (hopefully) in the hands of the company. It's also probable that the BYOD policy states that your company phone remains in the office premises once your workday is done. On the other hand, if you're using your personal device for company transactions, the information is possibly retained even if you've been out of the company for some time unless, of course, you're diligent and honest enough to get rid of it immediately. 
michaelsumastre   More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD   11/18/2012 12:32:04 PM
More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD
I am into empowering BYOD, but there should be control. Seriously, if my company decides to pay for my plan because they think it's completely need in my line of work, I would definitely be elated and be tempted to use some of the resources for personal interests. You get what I mean? Companies should be very clear on how the device should be used in line of work, and employees must also realize that with the privilege comes the responsibility and the possibility that their management can have the right over the smart phone or tablet at some point. 
soozyg   More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD   11/13/2012 12:55:51 PM
Re: Re : More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD
I am all for this. The (old?) stereotype is, of course, that men (yes, only men) given access to any non-work-related sites at the office will bring up porn.
Sudha N Bharadwaj   More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD   11/13/2012 12:33:28 AM
Re: Re : More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD
Oh yes, social media brings with it an informal and 'trusted envirionment" ambience. So users are more likely to let their guard down. This increases the threat to corporate security. More so because social media is inherently more susceptible to malware. In the beginning, Indian IT, especially the BPO which tries so hard to woo young, just-out-of-teenage employees with all kinds of feel-good perks. Now, whether they like it or not they have to engage with these sites, learn about them and teach their employees as well. 
Susan Nunziata   More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD   11/12/2012 8:58:17 PM
Re: Re : More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD
@Sudha: agreed allowing employees of all ranks to access social  media is wise. It really is the modern "town square" and much healthier for employees that smoking cigarettes. Is the concern over social  media access one of productivity or rather of security? Seems it could be easy for users at work to potentially fall prey to malware sent via social media links. If the latter is the case then it is up to IT to educate users about basic security.
Sudha N Bharadwaj   More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD   11/11/2012 6:36:18 AM
Re: Re : More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD
Blocking social media sites frustrates the younger crowd. What they do on the sites is definitely not relevant to work, but they do get to learn stuff and exposure to issues they may be oblivious to otherwise. In my opinion, the time they waste at the water filter, coffee dispensing machine, smoking corner and so on is now shared by social media sites as well. So perhaps less cigarettes, more updates on FB! Here in the BPO industry, they are even asked to deposit their phones outsides. I worked at a place where the juniors were not allowed to bring in their phones, but managers and upwards were allowed. Ditto for access to social media sites. Strange!
Sudha N Bharadwaj   More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD   11/11/2012 6:26:18 AM
Re: BYOD makes people happy

I think companies are covering this eventuality in contracts that employees sign. There is the remote wipe technology as well. I am not sure if it is sophisticated enough to differentiate between corporate and personal data though. I am sure MDM (mobile device management) technologies will evolve in coming days.
SunitaT   More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD   11/11/2012 5:48:33 AM
Re : More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD
there is evidence that working on personal smartphones and tablets, and using social media, actually make people more productive at the workplace.

@Sudha, thanks for the post. Many companies dont allow social media sites inside the working environment claiming that usage of social media diverts the employees attention. But  social media actually helps to reduce the stress in employees and thus helps them increase their productivity.
SunitaT   More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD   11/11/2012 5:48:31 AM
Re: BYOD makes people happy
I wonder what we're more likely to see in the future: companies paying for mobile devices for all employees or all employees bringing their own devices.

@kicheko, I think companies will start paying for mobile devices. This will help them to retain the ownership on the device that the employee carries. Moreover instead of investing on fixed infrastructure like desktop and laptop they can invest on mobile devices.
SunitaT   More Indian Workers Demanding BYOD   11/11/2012 5:48:28 AM
Re: BYOD makes people happy
Where companies give an allowance and specifications for the device, it would probably be Buy Your Own Device, a perk.

@Sudha, what happens when the employee quits the organization ? How will the company make sure that the data on the BYOD data is erased ?
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