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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.
Anurag Agrawal

Techaisle survey data shows BYOD is a major force in the US SMB Market


To set the context for a BYOD discussion Techaisle’s survey on end-point technology status of SMBs provide an intriguing set of statistics through which we can assess recent endpoint trends. BYOD is clearly a major force in the US SMB market. BYOD purchases accounted for 13% of all new laptops, 17% of all new tablets, and 22% of all new smartphones purchased by US SMBs in 2013. This creates challenges for both IT management, which needs to establish methods of managing these devices, and for suppliers, who need to work with SMBIT to secure their position in the main endpoint categories, and also appeal to business managers and individual buyers to ensure that they are not left out of a major portion of the market. Techaisle’s SMB End-point survey data shows that approaches to BYOD –brand selection, reimbursement, application download and support – vary with employee size, with small SMBs leaving most of the decision, cost and support to individual users, and larger SMBs tending to involve business and/or IT management in these activities.

The survey data also shows that overall frequency of device purchases, which speaks to the erosion of the notebook market as emphasis shifts to alternative screens; in 2013, a higher percentage of US SMB employees were using tablets and smartphones than notebooks purchased within the year.

Suppliers need to recognize the distinctions that are apparent across employee size categories, and structure their offerings accordingly. IT vendors courting the very small business (1-19 employee) segment should recognize that employees are most likely paying for and supporting these devise themselves; as a result, IT vendors will need to offer financing and vendor/carrier-supplied, business-grade support options. In larger SMBs, specifically, mid-market businesses, funding and support is more likely to come from business and IT management; in these segments, OEMs are advised to establish programs that make it easy to onboard, secure and support new devices and users. In both cases, there are gaps in policies; suppliers who help businesses to establish and implement effective BYOD practices may be able to position their products favorably as a result.

SMB employees driving much of the activity is also creating sales and marketing challenge for suppliers: opportunities to sell brands and configurations that are outside corporate specifications, and challenges in aligning channel strategies to a market that includes both IT and individual employees (business management) as important buying groups.

Within the SMB context, BYOD itself comes in several ‘flavors.’ Techaisle survey data shows that on hand an SMB employee both selects and pays for a new device, delighting the CFO, but causing problems for IT. On the other, the SMB employee pays for the device, but selects it based on guidelines or an approved list – an approach (referred to in some cases as CYOD) that appeals to both the CFO and IT, but might not be completely satisfactory for the employee. BYOD can take any one of these paths and add some level of reimbursement for the purchase from the company and/or technical support for the devices, which has both upside (because the employee selects technology that he/she is comfortable with) and downside (the cost burden rests, at least to some extent, with the company rather than the employee) for the SMB business owner. And regardless of the approach chosen, some SMBs are instituting formal contracts that provide them with authorization to secure and (if necessary) ‘wipe’ employee-owned devices.

Who selects the BYOD brand?

The most critical BYOD question for IT manufacturers revolves around brand selection: is it done by the employee or the employer? Survey data shows that the answer depends largely on the size of the SMB business.

Who pays the BYOD bill?

One of the contentious issues in BYOD is the matter of responsibility for funding the device purchase. Many employees view BYOD as an attempt by their SMB employers to shift costs from the business to its staff. Many SMBs, on the other hand, see BYOD as a means of ensuring that employees have access to the technology that they like best. Some employers view paying for the devices as a means of building goodwill with staff (and/or as a means of building a basis for exerting management control over the devices), while others believe that simply allowing the devices to be connected to corporate assets represents contribution enough.

Who is responsible for BYOD support?

In our survey, we asked respondents to identify the ways in which their organizations support BYOD devices. The findings provide a fascinating insight into the ways in which BYOD devices are integrated into the corporate endpoint portfolio from no support at all to commitment to full integration of BYOD devices.

What is the policy with respect to app downloads on BYOD devices?

One of the key employee benefits associated with BYOD devices is that employees have a platform on which to run personal applications. What, though, is the implication for business applications? Are employees free to select any app that they choose, or should the business play a role in directing or determining the selection of business apps? Results from the survey suggest that the degree of formalization associated with app selection and installation varies from no formal policy to a very structured approach.

Is there a contract in place to govern BYOD use?

The final BYOD issue investigated by our survey related to the creation of contracts between employers and employees. Techaisle considers these contracts to be important to the success of BYOD strategies, as they provide explicit employee agreement to IT activities necessary to safeguarding corporate apps and data and we expect that this will become standard HR practice in BYOD-friendly SMBs over time.

About the Report


  • Current and Planned purchase Intentions of client devices

  • Tablet OS & Application software adoption – Behind the Screen

  • BYOD: Employers vs. Employees, or Micros vs. Larger SMBs?

  • Across the OS generations: XP, Windows 8 refresh intentions

  • The Android Opportunity: Google in the PC Market

  • Converged Mobility PCs: 2-in-1 PCs

  • PC Purchase Channel and Sources of Information

More details about the report can be found here.

Related Research Articles

Seven Key Trends and their Meaning: SMB Endpoint Device Market in 2014

SMB Purchase Intentions for Android PCs

Key Attributes of Successful SMB Mobility Solutions
Tavishi Agrawal

Mobile Apps: Forget About Content. Context is King

As of March of this year, half of all US mobile phone subscribers had a Smartphone. This in my opinion is more than just a number. It is a tipping point for applications. It is safe to say that we are now in an app economy as far as mobile phones are concerned. But the number has significance beyond just being a tipping point because it is a tipping point for thinking about applications.

smartphone - Techaisle - Global SMB, Midmarket and Channel Partner Market Research Organization - Techaisle Blog SocMedicons-fb What do I mean by that? Applications designed for the desktop or enterprise environments typically exist in a sandbox. That sandbox can be as small as a user’s desk or the entire enterprise but nonetheless a sandbox. Their function and focus is to provide the tools needed to complete a task within the confines of that sandbox. But these apps for the most part ignore user contexts. For example, a CRM application typically does not take into consideration a user’s location nor does an app like MS Office (other than language localization). But mobile apps need to be different because mobile is different. A mobile phone is not just another device. It is a beacon in your pocket that is constantly aware of where you are, what’s around you. It is also aware of your preferences and social network and what transactions you prefer. And one more thing – mobile identifies the user uniquely, not just from a device standpoint but as an aggregate of all the factors mentioned above. So it follows then that Context must define Content. But what are these contexts that app developers should consider? There are fundamentally three.

    • Location


    • Contacts/social network


    • Calendar/time

Not all apps can take advantage of all three but should take advantage of at least one. It is hard to say that one of the above mentioned contexts is more powerful or more important than the others. Each can be powerful depending upon the app or the content. For example, ecommerce applications benefit significantly from taking advantage of location while for a CRM app, contacts and calendar are more critical than other contexts.

Context = Creative Destruction

The use of contexts in app development is not just about driving new user experience and value for users; it is about driving new business models as well. The use of contexts increases the app’s value to the point where in many instances a new revenue model can be implemented. For example, wireless phone companies that by design are able to capture user locations can monetize this “data” in a variety of ways, advertising being one of them. Similarly apps that used to be sold on a per license basis can shift their revenue models to leveraging contextual data as opposed to per user charges. In that respect, context is not only valuable, it is disruptive. The first wave of context aware apps we see have typically been those that would anyway have been free - Apps such as Instagram, Pinterest and Zoomingo (local shopping application).

Increasingly, I predict that we will see whole industries that shift their business models to take advantage of contexts. Newspapers and media are a prime example. While many newspapers are experimenting with paywalls, I believe that a larger opportunity exists for them to exploit user contexts. News publishing today uses what could be termed as an “in-out” model, that is publishers and editors decide what content should be created, publish it and hope that readers will find it interesting. It is the traditional content first driven approach. But what is relevant to me as a reader depends upon my current context. And what is relevant for me today may not be relevant tomorrow. It calls for a more dynamic approach to presenting content, where content to be presented is selected based on a combination of contexts. In other words, an “out-in” model. Doing so improves their ability to deliver advertising thereby potentially increasing revenue.

The same is true for retail. Most mobile retail websites are mere reproductions of online properties but should they be? Online retail websites suffer from the same contextual ignorance as other apps. For example, a mobile retail app would be much more powerful if it could detect a person’s physical proximity to a store. Imagine how small business retailers could benefit from such capabilities. Think about applications like Endomondo that track your physical fitness activities. Well over 5 million users have downloaded and use Endomondo. Consider how useful that data would be to an outfit like REI for targeting and creating customized offers. Here’s another example and a personal one. I am an avid photographer, but not a very good one. I try to learn about photography but that typically happens before or after I am out taking photographs. But the most appropriate context for me to quickly learn tips is when I am taking photographs. Cameras already track locations and embed them in pictures. They already sense light conditions. But this data is not used to educate the photographer! Could it be used to provide tips at the time the photo was being taken? Or could suggestions be given as to how to improve the photograph with examples of the best possible settings? Would it make amateurs like me to more likely to buy a particular camera brand? Would it facilitate brand loyalty? I believe the answers to all of the above are a resounding yes!

Context = Engagement

Indeed, most websites retail or not suffer from the same issue. Even corporate, customer facing websites are mere one-way information dispensing media rather than a context aware, interactive medium that facilitates two way engagements. In fact the very term “engagement” needs to be redefined in the mobile age.  Engagement was largely defined in terms of giving users the content they want/need. But in the mobile age, I believe that engagement should be about the interaction users want and need. It follows then that if context defines interaction then adding contexts fuels a more powerful engagement that can impact costs and revenue.

In Conclusion

Successful mobile applications need to score high on relevance. Relevance is a function that takes into consideration not just content but also all the factors that surround and influence the appeal of that content. This means that app developers have to re-think their applications for the mobile age. And not just re-think but they have to get mobile DNA into the entire organization.


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