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Exponential growth in the use of smart devices has led to significant and increased demand for bandwidth across 84 percent (UAE 78 percent) of organisations surveyed globally, according to new research commissioned by BT and Cisco. More than half (56 percent vs. 58 percent in the UAE) of IT managers have also noticed a resulting performance decline in some applications, which impacts negatively the productivity gains promised by smart devices. Almost half (46 percent vs. 48 percent in the UAE) of workers with Wi-Fi access in their office have experienced delays logging on or accessing an application, while 39 percent (52 percent in the UAE) have noticed they are running more slowly now than before.

While the overall global trends outlined above are closely mirrored in the UAE – except for the speed of connectivity issue - attitudes towards the deployment among workers and IT managers tell a different story.

A much higher number of workers that use their own smart devices (laptops, tablets and smartphones) in the UAE – 92 percent  – believe their organisations need to take further steps to fulfill the potential productivity gains that smart devices offer. The number globally was lower, 76 percent. Increased use of cloud solutions and greater use specialist software are also seen as more important among workers surveyed in the UAE against the global averages (40 percent for the UAE against 33 and 32 percent). Most importantly, half of the surveyed workers in the UAE (50 percent) believe that their organisation should provide more support for smart device users – UAE workers, together with their counterparts in Turkey – were most likely to think this of all the regions interviewed (global average 32 percent).

Ubiquitous Wi-Fi access over a better network is key to the development of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), but 45 percent (50 percent in the UAE) of employees still don’t have wireless access to their corporate networks. Of those workers currently without Wi-Fi access in their organisation, close to all those surveyed in the UAE (92 percent) believe this would have a positive impact on their work. Globally, the number stands a bit lower at 68 percent. Staying in touch appears to be top of mind for those workers in the UAE without Wi-Fi access, with 44 percent naming it as the most important benefit against the world average of 26 percent. Efficiency and productivity are perceived in line with global average (36 percent in the UAE vs. 31 percent globally), while working more flexibly is seen slightly less important (24 percent in the UAE vs. 30 percent globally).

The findings also indicate that network capacity is not the only challenge holding back benefits of BYOD. Despite overwhelming positivity among IT managers – 84 percent (70 percent in the UAE) think adopting a BYOD policy confers a competitive advantage – the research also highlights a lack of progress in adopting or articulating a consistent policy across wired, wireless and Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Trust in employees continues to play a large role in whether companies permit BYOD. The number of IT managers that think all workers understand their access requirements or permissions for their mobile devices is among the lowest in the UAE and stands at just above half of the world average (14 percent versus the global average of 26 percent). This is further reflected in the attitude of employees that use a personal device for work where only 16 percent of those polled in the UAE recognize that this presents a risk to company security. The world average is 26 percent. This suggests that in the UAE, even more than elsewhere, IT managers are nervous with some justification.

It is not immediately clear whether the above perception of risks associated with the use of personal devices are directly reflected in the permission to bring those devices onto the network, but the survey found that only 30 percent of workers in the UAE are allowed to do so, against the global average of 48 percent.

Further diving into the risks associated with the BYOD, the survey also found that fewer organisations have a formal BYOD policy in place in the UAE; 20 percent against the world average of 36 percent. And more than employees leaving with insider knowledge of the company on their own devices (48 percent versus 47 percent globally), IT managers are much more worried about loss or theft of devices (68 percent in the UAE against 44 percent globally).

The picture gets even less flattering to IT departments when it comes to unauthorised access to the company networks. Far less, only 14 percent of IT managers in the UAE can tell if someone is using an unauthorised device on the system. The global average stands at 33 percent. And of those, only just under half (48 percent) can identify unauthorised users on the network against the global average of 71 percent.

Wael El Kabbany, Vice president, BT Middle East and North Africa, said: “With networks creaking under the demands of smart devices and more than three quarters of users around the world convinced that their organisation needs to step up to the opportunity, it’s clear that enabling BYOD in its many forms is about much more than simply cool devices and a mobile contract. Organisations need to consider elements of device compatibility, security, Wi-Fi, network, application performance, with a focus on driving costs down.

“A quick look at the situation in the UAE is comforting and worrying at the same time; we can see a strong appetite for the BYOD and productivity gains it brings, but security risks associated with the concept are also featuring prominently with IT department’s mistrust in the concept clearly reflected in replies from the employees. Clearly, there is a lot more that needs to be done on this front to unleash the potential benefits of BYOD.

“At BT we are working with more and more customers to understand and implement this coming of age of consumerisation and turn it to business advantage, reliably, securely and cost effectively. In other words, we put a great performing network behind every great device and make sure that with the right control and connectivity organisations in the UAE – and globally - can deliver a great user experience. ” 

Osama Rasoul, sales manager, Borderless Networks Architectures Cisco, UAE, said: “We implemented a BYOD model internally, starting with mobile phones in 2009, and have managed to lower our costs per employee by 25 percent. Over the last few years, we have added 82 percent more devices to our base with 28 percent more users. Organisations looking to deploy a BYOD program should look at a comprehensive BYOD plan and think beyond just the device and operating system, but about the services delivered to that device, user experience and productivity gains.”

Adrian Drury, practice leader, Consumer Impact IT, Ovum said: “The growth in employee smartphone and tablet ownership is changing the ways we work. Implementing a BYOD policy is about enabling employees to work more flexibly, and be more productive.

“Draconian Wi-Fi access limitations or failure to invest in sufficient Wi-Fi coverage is a fast way to ensure a poor employee experience. However, this is not a mandate for open networks. Businesses still need to ensure that network security policies are maintained, and ideally they should take an integrated approach to network access control, device management and application management.”

About:  BT is a provider of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries.  Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move.


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