Surprising findings about enterprise mobile adoption

It’s been nearly 10 years since the first iPhone came out, kicking off a revolution in the enterprise that continues to this day. And while the pace of change in the enterprise has been dizzying over that past decade, technology consultancy Gartner recently announced survey results that may surprise adherents of “mobile first” strategies: Mobile device adoption in the workplace is not yet mature.

The 2016 Gartner Personal Technologies Study surveyed nearly 10,000 respondents in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia over the summer. Gartner found that desktops “are still the most popular corporate device among businesses, with more than half of workers receiving corporate-issued desktop PCs.”

Fewer than one-quarter of respondents (23%) said they were given enterprise-owned smartphones to use for their jobs. When it comes to enterprise mobile, clearly it’s a BYOD world.

“The low adoption of corporate-issued mobile devices underlines the fact that large numbers of personally owned mobile devices are used in the workplace,” Mikako Kitagawa, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. “In fact, more than half of employees who used smartphones at work rely solely on their personally owned smartphones.”

Employees also will use their own tablets to do their work, though not as frequently. The Gartner survey shows only 21% use tablets, either their own or a device provided by the enterprise.

“In the era of mobility, it comes as something of a surprise that corporate usage of smartphones and tablets is not as high as PCs, even when the use of personally owned devices is taken into account,” Kitagawa said. “While it’s true that the cost of providing mobile devices can quickly escalate, proper usage of mobile devices can increase productivity, which can easily justify the extra costs.”

Absolutely accurate, but old habits die hard, even in the mobile era. Or maybe most enterprises prefer to let their employees bear the burden of mobile device ownership, which can make securing enterprise data more challenging but may reduce costs. These are the kinds of trade-offs and decisions that enterprise IT and business leaders must make every day as they search for the right mobile formula.

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