BYOT Sophistication is Currently Low in China, but Changes are Underway
With Bryan Wang
Media and IT professionals are buzzing about BYOD thanks to the increasing adoption of personal mobile devices being used for work in China. To delve deeper into BYOD usage in Chinese enterprises, Forrester conducted a brief survey of 28 senior IT professionals who attended a BYOD seminar organized by online media company ZOL, a subsidiary of CBSi, in Beijing. I found the results interesting, and believe the feedback reveals important Chinese BYOD trends and enterprise views on the BYOD phenomenon:
- The focus is still on BYOD rather than BYOT. The proliferation of mobile devices is changing the BYOD landscape in China. More companies are allowing their employees to bring their own mobile devices, not just for cost savings, but also for productivity and anytime, anywhere work. However, only a few companies realized the trend of bring-your-own-technology, including software and mobile apps, with just 8 respondents allowing self-purchased software on PCs and mobile devices. This finding supported our observation that many Chinese organizations are still playing on the BYOD field rather than BYOT. In fact, in my conversations with SMEs, I’ve found they seldom realize it is necessary to manage applications on these devices used for business, or they simply do not want to manage them. Some SMEs also don’t buy the necessary business applications for their employees and adopt a “don’t-ask, don't-tell” policy on employee's use of pirated software.
- Stronger controls and management are coming. After years of a zero-intervention policy and given the increasing usage of mobile devices and growing security risks, we expect more intensive BYOT enterprise management in the next two years. Most respondents also expect stronger and broader BYOT management policies in terms of network access (23 of 28), apps (15 of 28), security (18 of 28) and remote controls (16 of 28) in the coming two years. Only two of our 28 respondents indicated they expect their organizations to exert weaker control over the devices and brands purchased for business in the coming two years.
- Employee subsidies are expected to grow moderately. Of the 28 respondents, only 6 respondents said they expect higher subsidies for buying smartphones or tablet devices for work and almost half of them are unsure or "don't know" about subsidy changes. Furthermore, 10 respondents expect higher subsidies on telecom expenses, while another 10 expect this will remain unchanged.
In an emerging market like China, it is not surprising that most companies are still in the early stages of BYOD adoption. However as the trend grows, IT professionals will need to pay more attention to employees bringing their own software and applications that open potential risks for I&O professionals.
Meanwhile, telecom expense subsidies – which are broadly accepted by organizations in China – can be expected to grow. Currently, subsidizing employee’s software and mobile apps is much less common, but can be expected to increase as well. For software and app vendors, figuring out a distribution model that can bundle these apps into companies’ telecom subsidies could generate growth through a completely new channel.