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 Millions consumers around the globe are buying smartphones, tablets, and other advanced mobile devices loaded with features and apps that can be used for business as well as for their own personal communication and entertainment needs. Many of these people have started taking these devices to work and integrating them into their daily workflow. This trend is often called “bring your own device,” or BYOD.

Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) wanted to know how prevalent BYOD is, and how corporate IT departments are handling these new devices in terms of support, network access, and security. In the spring of 2012, we surveyed 600 IT decision makers in U.S. enterprises, and then expanded our study in the summer of 2012 to include 4,900 IT decision makers in midsize companies and enterprises – in a total of nine countries.

Our results show that BYOD’s growth is a global phenomenon, with a large percentage of knowledge workers everywhere using their own devices for work. Eighty-nine percent of IT leaders from both enterprises and midsize companies support BYOD in some form, and 69 percent view this trend positively, with benefits including increased productivity, employee satisfaction, and lower costs. Employees want BYOD for choice of device, applications, and the ability to combine their personal and work lives.

While BYOD is growing worldwide, it definitely has a regional flavor: Asian and Latin American countries see – and encourage – extensive BYOD, while Europe is more cautious and restrictive. Higher current adoption and greater growth in non-European countries will quickly make BYOD the predominant approach in these regions. Of special note is the high percentage of IT decision makers who say BYOD increases will be “significant”: 35 percent in India, where more than half of smartphones and laptops are already employee-owned; and 29 percent in Brazil, where more than 40 percent of major mobile devices are employee-owned.

However, BYOD also brings new challenges in security and IT support. Cisco IBSG believes companies must respond proactively with improved mobile policies.

IT leaders are beginning to view desktop virtualization as a way to help solve support challenges by delivering a “virtual desktop” comprised of applications and data that employees can access regardless of the device they use. The United States and India are far ahead in desktop virtualization; IT leaders elsewhere are aware of it, but implementation is lagging.

The transformative value of BYOD rests in giving employees the freedom to innovate how they work. If allowed to use the devices, applications, and cloud services they prefer, and to choose the time and location for work, employees have the potential to drive the next wave of corporate efficiency and productivity. By fostering BYOD with proper management and a BYOD-ready governance model and network, companies can move from merely reacting to employee demand to harnessing a latent — and potent — source of value.

Click here to read our complete global survey report.

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