Latin Americans will buy 24.9 million notebooks, 73.2 million smartphones and 11.9 million tablets in 2013, according to an IDC forecast. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon, which has already swept across corporate America, will be an influential driver in acquisition of this hardware in the Nearshore as well. “One in three large companies in Latin America have allowed employees to bring in their own device and connect to the office data,” said Diego Anesini, an IDC telecom analyst in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The freedom of working from home and the appetite for more data is what driving employees to insist their bosses embrace BYOD. “More than anything else, BYOD is giving birth to a slew of mobility programs and, as a result, that is making employees more productive than ever,” said Anesini.
Mobility service providers are not wasting time; they are all pitching in and quickly cashing in on the growing popularity of the trend. Brazil’s MMS provider Navita, for example, doubled its revenue to US$ 25 million in 2012. It is becoming increasingly clear that the freedom to work from anywhere and at anytime is having a positive impact on employees.
“Your Gmail account may have some storage limitations, but not your corporate account. This is also a reason why more and more employees are forcing their IT departments to implement BYOD policies,” Anesini pointed out. As the pressure mounts to implement BYOD, businesses are looking for applications like mobile device management platforms (MDMP) that allow network administrators to keep an eye on employees’ devices. But, according to IDC, only one in four companies in Latin America have a mobile device management (MDM), and only 6% are planning to implement in 2013.
Not all IT leaders are convinced. They are citing security risks for their delay in embracing BYOD.
“IT professionals in Latin America are cautious with regard to BYOD and believe more employee education is needed about the risk,” said Juan Luis Carselle, vice president of high-tech watchdog ISACA, which has recently conducted a survey to assess the success of BYOD programs.
Carselle said in a press release that companies are increasingly employing encryption technologies and remote wipe capability to guard against the possible theft of data.
Keeping control of devices and remotely wiping data when an employee loses his device are key challenges bothering the IT departments. Some companies argue that BYOD would decrease employee productivity by allowing workers to hang out on social networks and play online games during business hours.
Chile Ahead of Others
Interestingly, Anesini says, BYOD trend is more widespread in Chile and Venezuela than in Brazil and Mexico, which are in fact the main technology markets of Latin America. “Chileans quickly adopt new corporate culture and Venezuela has the largest smartphone penetration,” he said.
Analysts point that that providing access to corporate network alone will not increase employee productivity and suggest to CIOs that they offer technical support to employees when there are problems.
“Employees feel encouraged when they are allowed to use the device, application, and cloud service they prefer. Working away from a traditional office setting or fixed location will also boost the employee spirit,” Anesini said, underlining the importance of launching BYOD programs.
Whatever the argument, BYOD has certainly benefited the region’s ICT market. CISCO says Brazil will have 3.1 connected devices per knowledge worker by 2014, nearly as high as the United States’.
“The top benefit of BYOD is cost savings, which is not surprising given the high percentage of employee-owned devices in Mexican firms,” Cisco noted in a recent study.