Workers use their own smartphones at work, without boss's knowledge

Many workers use their personally owned smartphones and other computers for job tasks, but a new survey shows a big percentage are doing so without their employer's knowledge.

Many workers use their personally owned smartphones and other computers for job tasks, but a new survey shows a big percentage are doing so without their employer's knowledge.

Market research firm Gartner surveyed 4,300 U.S. consumers in June who work at large companies (with more than 1,000 employees) and found 40% used personally owned smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops as a primary or supplemental business device.

That 40% might not be unusual, but more surprisingly, Gartner found that 45% of workers not required to use a personal device for work were doing so without their employer's knowledge.

"Almost half [are using their device] without their employer's awareness," said Gartner analyst Amanda Sabia in an interview.

"Are those without employer's awareness violating a rule? That would depend on the employer," Sabia added. "The point is that some CIOs are underestimating [the number of] employees using their devices and should be prepared for this."

The Gartner survey found the most popular personally owned device used for work was a desktop computer, at 42%, closely followed by a smartphone, at 40%, a laptop, at 36%, and a tablet, at 26%.

"The lines between work and play are becoming more and more blurred as employees choose to use their own device for work purposes whether sanctioned by an employer or not," Sabia said. "Devices once bought for personal use are increasingly used for work."

Technology manufacturers and wireless service providers could do more to respond to the bring-your-own-device trend, Sabia said. The survey found that the primary use of a smartphone, after making calls and texting, was to get maps and directions.

"Smartphone vendors should focus on ensuring ease of integration of a smartphone with in-car sound and media systems for hands-free and real-time operation of these [mapping and directions] functions," Sabia added.

The survey asked a wide range of questions beyond BYOD concerns. Another finding was that 32% of respondents plan to buy a smartphone in the next 12 months, while 23% want to buy a laptop or notebook, 20% plan to buy a tablet and 14% a desktop PC.

Also, about 80% of respondents said they had downloaded a mobile app. Of that number, three-fourths of the apps were free, and one-fourth were paid.

Nick Ingelbrect, a Gartner analyst, noted that the app industry has struggled to make money on its products, but the survey results should provide encouragement. The app market is maturing, and consumers are more discerning, but will pay for apps that they find valuable, he said.

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