The enterprise sector is undergoing a transformation when it comes to workers taking their personal devices into the workplace. And the trend — known as consumerization of the enterprise — is leaving company IT departments unprepared, according to a new survey from Unisys.

The study, conducted by research firm IDC, surveyed 3,000 people in nine countries and found that while IT departments recognize the value of the consumerization of IT, they are hamstrung by security and support issues.

According to Nick Evans, vice president of innovation strategies, enterprises are struggling in four key areas: awareness in terms of how widespread the consumerization trend is within their organizations; support of employee-owned devices; creating applications that support customers; and security.

“IT underestimates the extent of consumerization by a factor of 50% or more,” Evans said. “We see for the first time in the history of IT there are more powerful devices outside of the corporate-issued devices. That changes the way IT operates in terms of technical and business policies.”

Workers report using smart mobile devices for work purposes at twice the rate that IT executives believe to be the case (69% versus 34%). In addition, 44% of workers report using social networks and communities for customer communication, while only 28% of employers believe that to be the case.

From a support perspective, IT executives give their organizations poor scores for supporting consumer devices and applications in the workplace, rating themselves only 2.9 on a 1-to-5 scale.

“The work load is increasing for IT because they have to support a broader mix of devices,” Evans said.

Indeed, 80% of IT respondents say that their department workload is increasing due to consumerization. They reported that nearly 60% of the time, employees encountering a problem with a personal device used for business will contact the IT department for help rather than troubleshoot the problem themselves or contact the technology provider.

Meanwhile, just 6% of IT decision-makers surveyed report that their organization has modernized customer-facing applications to work with mobile devices, and 89% report that they have no plans to do so over the next year.

“This new research indicates that too many IT executives are acting as custodians of the status quo, not as the innovators they need to be for their enterprises to benefit fully from consumerization of IT,” Frank Gens, chief analyst at IDC, said in a release. “IT needs to make a concerted effort to gain better visibility into the consumer devices and social applications employees actually want to use for work and devise smart, flexible policies for managing and securing those technologies. If IT executives can do that, they’ll find that consumerization of IT opens up a whole new range of opportunities for their business.”

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