A third of UK employees use a personal device for work purposes as IT management remains unaware

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IT managers are facing an uphill struggle as employees bring more consumer technologies into the workplace.

Research by Unisys has revealed gaps in readiness by European businesses to support, secure and capitalise on the rapidly growing use of consumer technologies, such as netbooks, iPads and social media, in the workplace.

In a survey of 987 end-users and 204 CIOs and IT directors across Western Europe, 95 per cent said that they had used at least one consumer device that they have purchased themselves for work purposes. In the UK, 38 per cent of ‘i-workers' use smartphones for work, although only 14 per cent of the employers surveyed believed this to be the case.

The study further found that organisations expect to increase their use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook over the next year to help improve communications with employees, customers and other stakeholders. With IT management from Belgium and the Netherlands expect the fastest growth of these social tools.

While 29 per cent of Dutch CIOs currently use Twitter in their business, 37 per cent expect to use it by next year. Similarly, use of Facebook for business purposes in Belgium is forecast to grow from 20 per cent today to 39 per cent in 2011.

In January, L. Frank Kenney, vice president of global strategy at Ipswitch File Transfer, talked about the challenges faced by employees who purchase an electronic device themselves but intend to use it primarily for business rather than consumer applications.

He said: “From the iPhone and iGoogle portal pages to web mail and file-sharing websites to USB drives, corporate IT has to manage and control both sanctioned and ad-hoc applications, processes and systems.

“The result is a tectonic shift in the processes, methodologies and mechanisms companies must deploy to better manage their flow of information. How do you know what is being sent? How do you deal with it?”

Rob Chapman, vice president and managing director of Unisys UKMEA, said: “Our study has uncovered compelling evidence that new technologies are blurring the divisions between work and leisure for Europe's i-workers. These tech-savvy i-workers are reversing the dynamic of business computing - driving the ‘consumerisation of IT' revolution from the grassroots up, not top down.

“These i-workers are hungry for information and rich with ideas on new ways to innovate, serve customers and operate more efficiently. However, our research indicates that organisations in the UK have some way to go to catch up with their own employees' innovations. Organisations that can take advantage of this potential – without compromising their business systems - will be well prepared to succeed in the consumer-driven marketplace of the future.”

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