Surprise! Consumer apps get IT approval in small businesses

In a new survey of 1,200 small and medium businesses (SMBs), LogMeIn found — no surprise — that employees in most of stores use personal applications at work.  What was more eyebrow-raising was that IT staff in these businesses are accommodating, if not embracing, many of those personal application choices.

LogMeIn, the company behind  Cubby, a business-oriented Dropbox competitor, prefers the term Bring Your Own Apps (BYOA) to the more common bring your own device (or BYOD) terminology.

  • Perhaps most surprising is that 39 percent of productivity applications — the word processors and spreadsheets that do the heavy lifting in businesses — were introduced by employees. Google(s goog) Apps is probably a big beneficiary here.
  • And, 44 percent of collaboration apps — Skype(s msft), GotoMeeting etc. — were brought in by workers, not IT departments.
  • Twenty-six percent of those productivity and collaborative applications ended up being okayed by IT departments for corporate use.
  • Sixty-nine percent of “social” applications used across the surveyed businesses were brought in by employees.  LogMeIn categorizes things like Yammer(s msft) and LinkedIn(s lnkd) as social apps which indicates a pretty straight-laced view of social apps.
  • And, more than half (52 percent) of cloud sync-and-storage applications now in use in these businesses likewise came in the door via employees. That would be the Dropboxes, iClouds(s aapl), Skydrives of the world.

Other key findings:

  • 70 percent of companies surveyed said employees “actively” use non-business applications in a work context.
  • 67 percent of IT pros cited data security of these apps as a primary concern.
  • 47 percent of respondents indicated that BYOA can increase business flexibility
  • 89 percent of IT pros said BYOA will require different skills for managing IT environments.

For this research, LogMeIn and Edge Strategies surveyed more than 1,200 companies with up to 1,000 employees in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zeeland.

These findings, along with earlier research sponsored by Nasuni and others, shows that the line between personal and workplace technologies has become all but invisible. That poses real challenges to IT departments that have to deal with all sorts of technology coming in over the transom. But it also opens up opportunities for vendors that design easy-to-use consumer apps to enter the business realm as well.