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Use of Smartphones and Tablets at Workplaces in India [Assocham Survey]

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A recent survey by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) revealed that more than half of the corporate workforce in India prefers to use smartphones, iPads, tablets and other mobile devices. Mr D.S. Rawat, Sec. General of ASSOCHAM also pointed out that tech savvy employees are using 3G mobile internet to communicate, seek and share information.

Assocham’s study was conducted in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata. The respondents included 350 professionals, officers and executives across various industry sectors including manufacturing, real estate, automobile, healthcare, retail, hospitality and BFSI.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Can employees increase their efficiency if allowed to use their favorite device?

54% of the respondents said that they use at least one mobile device, 27% use smartphones while 10% use tablets like iPad at work to complete work-related tasks. More than half of the respondents believe that they did not need to be in the confines of a cubicle or the walls of their offices to be productive.

Majority of the workforce echoed similar ideology that mobile devices including iPads, tablets and smartphones helped them remain accessible to colleagues and clients regardless of their own location. Productivity emerged to be the keyword here as many respondents also used their devices to do office-related work while commuting to their workplaces.

The survey also revealed that the use of smart devices went beyond boosting productivity on-the-go. Employees said that they used these devices in meetings, conferences and other work scenarios to take notes easily.

To get further insight into how companies are adapting to the increased perception and demand of flexibility at work, the Assocham Social Development Foundation also interviewed Admin and HR departments from 50 organizations.

Despite the fact that access to social media was banned at nearly 60% of these organizations, HR managers were looking to tweak their existing policies. The major reason behind this attempt to ‘gradually adapt’ was the concept that social media presents extensive networking and marketing opportunities.

The interviews also revealed that most of the Admin and HR personnel want to incorporate the use of mobile devices and tap into increased levels of efficiency and productivity from their employees.

Enabling young tech-savvy employees to ‘cater to customers outside normal office hours’ was one of the drivers behind this push for adoption of using smart devices at work.

Allowing and empowering employees with smart devices at work is not a new concept, even for India Inc. Heads of various IT services companies like SAP Labs India and Cisco India have already spoken out about a similar concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) at work.

"The use of their own devices also leads to a significant increase in productivity , as a device of their choice would allow them to respond to requests faster" said B Raghavendra Rao, VP, SAP Labs India to ET earlier this year. Just last week, Global IT research and advisory firm Gartner labeled BYOD as ‘the single most radical shift in the economics of client computing for business since PCs’.

Like with most IT adoption initiatives, smart devices used by employees at work pose certain challenges.

Lack of appropriate software and hardware controls may leave an organization’s corporate data susceptible to malicious attacks. Recognizing this threat, many of the Admin and HR respondents from Assocham’s survey said that they were ‘taking steps to implement mobile-data security measures and designing new software models to prevent loss of crucial data’.

Despite a sluggish economic environment, the Indian PC market reportedly grew 17% in Q2 2012. IT companies will welcome this trend of using mobile devices at work, hoping for an increased percolation of tablets in the hands of tech-savvy Indians.

Dr. Rawat also mentioned the potential snowball effect of employees using smart devices in workplaces on the IT industry. "The growing demand to work from their devices of choice amid young employees is also likely to spurt demand for IT support including software applications, networking technologies for multiple devices and even the 3G mobile internet services in the long run", he said.

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