But are firms failing to embrace the revolution?
Employees are demanding a greater degree of freedom to choose the IT applications and devices the use in the workplace – but are finding that enterprises are struggling to adapt to revolution.
The findings appeared in a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, which found that users are adopting for work use the applications and devices that they use in their personal lives.
The report identifies wikis, blogs and social networking sites as the applications causing most concerns, and the availability of mobile devices through work has made accessing these apps even easier.
However, enterprises seem to be split on the best way to deal with the rise of ‘technology democracy’ – as the report calls it – in the work place.
Nearly half (48%) of respondents feel senior management is supportive of allowing employees greater freedom to use apps and devices of their choosing to carry out their work. A similar amount (47%) feel their company is not supportive.
Innovation through employees’ involvement in online forums was listed by 31% of respondents as the main benefit of embracing this technology democracy, followed by enhanced employee morale (27%), more effective collaboration with external partners (25%) and improved productivity (22%).
Loss of productivity was also listed as the main risks associated with allowing greater freedom in the workplace (35%) along with leakage of confidential company information (32%).
The key to enabling safe use of these applications in the workplace without compromising security is regular employee training in additional to having the correct policies in place, according to Rik Ferguson of Trend Micro, sponsors of the research.
Just 21% of European companies provide training to employees on the use of personal devices and only 17% offer training for social networking use. The report also said that no more than one-fifth of companies have plans to introduce this sort of training in the future.
“Training is the number one issue. It’s short-sighted and foolhardy to not do it,” said Ferguson. “IT executives need to move away from a proscriptive approach and towards a risk management approach. A proscriptive approach, such as blocking all access, just drives people to find creative ways around a policy.”
The results also revealed a lack of awareness about the technologies that are creeping into the workplace. File-sharing apps or sites sat at the top of the list of technologies that posed the greatest information security risks to enterprises, with instant messaging further down the list.
“People in IT function have a lot to learn from people already using the technologies,” Ferguson said. “Instant messaging is file sharing, it’s just that it’s one-to-one rather than one-to-many. It presents the same risks. This shows a lack of awareness.”
Companies should not bury their head in the sand when it comes to technology democracy. “They either manage the transition as it is happening or they cope with it once it has arrived, because it is happening.” Ferguson said.