December 12, 2011
Rising Use of Consumer Technology in the Workplace Forcing IT Departments to Respond, Accenture Research Finds
Emerging markets leading the adoption of consumer devices and applications in the workplace
NEW YORK; Dec. 12, 2011 – The consumerization of corporate IT - as employees bring their own devices and applications into the workplace - is one of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing organizations worldwide in the next five years, according to new survey research published today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). With almost half (45 percent) of the employees surveyed noting that personal consumer devices and software applications are more useful than the tools and applications provided by their IT department, this research highlights that organizations can no longer ignore or resist the phenomenon.
The ‘Consumerization of Enterprise IT’ research, carried out by the Accenture Institute for High Performance, surveyed over 4,000 employees in 16 countries across five continents, as well as over 300 business and IT executives. The study found that despite employers’ concerns around data security and IT protocol, one in four (23 percent) employees worldwide regularly use personal consumer devices and applications for work related activities. Employees claim that such technologies enhance innovation, productivity and job satisfaction, and more than a quarter (27 percent) said that they would even be prepared to pay for their own devices and applications to use at work.
“Employees feel increasingly empowered to make their own technology decisions and say that corporate IT is just not as flexible and convenient as the personal consumer devices and software applications they use in their personal lives,” commented Jeanne Harris, executive research fellow and senior executive at the Accenture Institute for High Performance. “Employees are surprisingly willing to pay in order to use the technologies they love at work, and as a result, they are going to use them – with or without their company’s approval.”
The research also revealed that patterns of usage and attitudes toward such technologies differ noticeably across the globe, with greater adoption of consumer IT by organizations in emerging markets such as Brazil, China, India and Mexico than in developed markets. In contrast to a worldwide adoption average of 23 percent for consumer devices and 20 percent for applications that are routinely used in organizations by employees, countries such as China and India show consumerization rates well above 40 percent. As emerging markets seek to continue the high growth they have enjoyed over the past two decades, consumer IT in the workplace could be one of the key drivers of competitive advantage.
Other key findings from the research include:
Rising Employee Technology Expectations
- Over a quarter (27 percent) of employees routinely use non-corporate applications downloaded from the Internet in the workplace as they search for applications that help them to work better
- The first step toward IT consumerization often involves accessing corporate email in non-corporate settings, largely as a result of increasing smartphone penetration, with 30 percent saying they routinely check email before they go to bed
- Employees also revealed a desire to access Web-based corporate applications and databases, as 14 percent reported accessing corporate apps and databases from their consumer devices on a regular basis
Employees Solving Their Own Tech Challenges
- A large proportion of employees (43 percent) feel comfortable and capable of making their own technology decisions for work, indicating a ‘technological empowerment movement’ sweeping across users worldwide
- There is also an increasing trend for employee driven technological innovation, as 24 percent of employees admitted to coming up with their own consumer technology solution to help solve a business problem
Management is Scrambling to Embrace Consumer Technology
- The use of personal devices in the enterprise increases dramatically amongst IT executives (54 percent) and other management executives (49 percent) when compared to employee adoption rates
- Management and IT executives know that using the latest technology is a big priority for their employees, with 88 percent of executives collectively saying that consumer technology used by their employees can improve job satisfaction
- Most executives approach consumerization as a series of ad hoc issues (e.g. “Should we allow corporate reports on iPads?” or “Should we allow social media?”). However, whilst more executives recognize the adoption of consumer technologies in the workforce as a strategic issue, only 27 percent have started to address the issue in a structured way.
The research highlights that many organizations are struggling to decide how to address the challenges and opportunities presented by IT consumerization. While some have followed an authoritarian approach and simply prohibited the use of outside technologies, others have chosen to ignore the issue altogether. According to Accenture, companies should look to take a managed adoption approach instead. This is possible by applying at least one of the following four tactics: broadening the scope of allowable devices and applications (while simultaneously tailoring and updating policies to the needs of the workforce), promoting technology choice (for example by providing stipends to purchase consumer tech as a job benefit), proactively advocating consumer technologies (by actively pushing smartphone applications or technology sandboxes into the workplace and allowing for safe experimentations) and/or segmenting consumer IT needs by role (by developing a usage profile for each job description).
Harris concludes, “IT consumerization will be one of the biggest tests for organizations in the next five years, but resisting it is simply not an option and is tantamount to capitulation. A good first step is to learn just how extensively consumer IT has embedded itself into your workforce: Consider how to manage the risks and opportunities, and experiment with ways to channel employees’ enthusiasm for consumer technology. The goal is to develop pragmatic strategies regarding consumer IT that will attract the best employees and make the company more competitive in the marketplace while protecting enterprise information.”
About the Research
The Accenture Institute for High Performance conducted a research project on “IT consumerization,” designed to understand and study the breadth and depth of the phenomenon, its drivers, benefits and drawbacks, as well as the strategies to manage it. Researchers began by surveying over 4,000 full-time employees in organizations with more than 100 employees, from 16 different countries and representing five major industry sectors. To understand the executive perspectives, they conducted a separate survey of more than 300 executives in four countries, including the US, the UK, France and India. The survey was supplemented by 47 in-depth phone interviews with business and IT executives representing a wide range of industries.
To read “The Genie is Out of the Bottle: Managing the Infiltration of Consumer IT Into the Workforce” report by Jeanne G. Harris, Iris Junglas, and Blake Ives please click here.
To access “ The Promise of Consumer Technologies in Emerging Markets” report byJeanne G. Harris and Iris Junglas please click here.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 236,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$25.5 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2011. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
About the Accenture Institute for High Performance
The Accenture Institute for High Performance creates strategic insights into key management issues through original research and analysis. Its management researchers combine world-class reputations with Accenture’s extensive consulting, technology and outsourcing experience to conduct innovative research and analysis into how organizations become and remain high-performance businesses.
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