The three most surprising facts in the latest BYOD study

A survey confirmed what many believed. Employees are increasinly using their smartphones outside of work for work. Credit: (c) Can Stock Photo

A recent survey by Cisco partners of BYOD practices (pdf download, registration required) yielded some surprising results about BYOD usage in the U.S. Here are three facts that stood out:

  • Education is the industry with the highest percentage of workers using their smartphones at work -- 95.2 percent. Meanwhile retail/wholesale and legal brought up the rear with 77.1 and 78.6 percent respectively. Still a healthy amount, but wouldn't you expect lawyers to need their smartphones more often for work than teachers? Also, 70 percent of people in the banking industry reported that they use smartphones for work every day, which brings us to our next point...
  • The banking industry reports itself as most ready for BYOD, with a whopping 53 percent. Legal was second with 46 percent and healthcare was third with 36 percent (although 37 percent of healthcare reported they weren't ready). Again, I would expect legal, typically the most paranoid, to lead the way, but they don't. Nor did legal lead the way in employees using password protection on their phones -- banking beat them 67 to 64 percent.
  • iPhone users are most likely to password-protect their phones. 66 percent of iPhone users employ password protection; only 54 percent of Android users do so. 

In addition, the survey shows that an astonishing 90 percent of American workers are using their personal smartphones for work. As the report states, it clearly validates the BYOD phenomenon and that the consumerization trend has given workers much greater flexibility.

Yet, as companies have stopped giving out phones, they haven't helped employees pay for their own. In fact, just 1 in 10 reported get any stipend at all for using their personal phones for work. The survey report doesn't say if that includes the ability to participate in a company-sponsored provider plan, which would probably be cheaper than what they get as individuals and could act as a de facto stipend.

What's good for accounting isn't necessarily good for IT, and BYOD has brought some additional challenges, particularly with security. For instance, 39 percent of survey respondents reported they don't use basic password protection on their phones and 52 percent reported using unsecured WiFi networks. These issues can and should be rectified with some very basic phone security training -- workers must understand that the freedom of using their own smartphones for work comes with some responsibility. IT can also take precautions to hide enterprise data in secure apps that require a user ID and password to access, and which shut down when the user lock screen comes on. 

The survey was conducted by Cisco Partners of a "randomized online sampling of Full Time American workers. The group analyzed 1000 responses." They reported a 3 percent margin of error.

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