Although the impact of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon is beginning to be better understood, IT professionals are still significantly underestimating the scope of the bring-your-own-app (BYOA) trend in their workplace. A recent survey by LogMeIn and Edge Strategies of IT professionals found them to believe thaht the number of these apps to be 2.8 apps per organization. However, subsequent data collected from similar-sized organizations via app discovery technology found that the average number of BYO apps to be closer to 21 per company – a staggering seven times more than estimated by IT staff.
The trend sits at the intersection of two of the biggest IT industry transformation drivers: the pervasive rise of cloud offerings and the consumerization of IT. Survey questions covered popular apps and categories like cloud file sync and share apps (e.g. Dropbox, Cubby, Google Drive), collaboration apps (e.g. Skype, join.me, Trello), productivity apps (Evernote, Google Apps for Business/Google Docs), as well as social apps and remote access apps. As such, BYOA is pervasive and expected to grow: Approximately 70 percent of companies report that employee-introduced apps are actively being used in the workplace, and 42 percent of respondents expect BYOA to grow significantly over the next five years.
SMBs report higher prevalence of BYOA: For companies between 11-100 employees, 81 percent reported active use of employee-introduced apps. And, nearly two-thirds of BYO apps are introduced and used despite existing IT-provided solutions already in place. More than 64 percent of employee-introduced apps are being used in place of existing company applications meant to serve the same need.
This is particularly true in key categories: 58 percent of all cloud sync and share apps were first introduced by employees; 52 percent of all productivity apps were first introduced by employees; and 49 percent of all collaboration apps were first introduced by employees.
Consulting IT no longer common…and it’s worse than IT believes: When asked whether IT is consulted on the decision to introduce apps into the workplace, 56 percent of IT pros reported that they were consulted. Employees had a much different answer, with only 45 percent saying they actually consulted or informed IT before introducing cloud applications into the workplace. But many apps originally introduced by employees are often later adopted and/or endorsed by IT for broader use within the organization, the survey found. A full 59 percent of collaboration apps originally introduced by employees are now endorsed by IT, and the same is true for 55 percent of productivity apps and 41 percent of file sync and share apps.
Worryingly, free and unmanaged versions are the norm, even after IT endorsement. For file sync and share apps, 54 percent of employees use unmanaged free versions. For collaboration apps it’s 46 percent and for productivity apps, 42 percent do so.
“The rapid rise of cloud offerings — along with the consumerization of IT — is forcing major changes to the way IT operates, and calling into question IT’s overall relevance in today’s employee empowered workplace,” said W. Sean Ford, CMO of LogMeIn. “The critical security and management requirements remain IT’s primary mandate, and yet IT is increasingly outside of the loop when it comes to app selection and worse, the way data is stored and shared across these apps. We believe that the role of IT needs to be fundamentally redefined if IT professionals want to regain their strategic voice, and this means reinventing the way they approach the management of apps, devices and data in the BYO era.”
In other findings, security is key, even as line of business managers take on provisioning lead over IT: Only one-third of IT pros report that they handle all provisioning of cloud apps; 67 percent of IT pros report that they either split or outright concede most cloud app provisioning responsibilities to business owners. And Few IT pros claim to have the policies and management tools to handle BYOA: Only 38 percent of organizations have a BYOA policy in place.
A mere 20 percent of IT pros feel they are very prepared and have policies and technology in place to mitigate most, if not all, of the security risks associated with BYOA, opening up a big opportunity for channel partners to sell a managed security or device offering.