Recent years have slid an increasing number of BYOD policies across IT desktops. This holds true for both enterprise and government. Expectations are set to enable employees to work from anywhere. That means the ability to use smartphones—the mobile device most of us carry everywhere we go—for doing things like sharing files, approving documents, and moving projects forward.

Just how many BYOD smartphones are on the way?

According to Gartner, “Mobile phones are expected to dominate overall device shipments, with 1.9 billion mobile phones shipped in 2014.” This is an all-time high and a 5% increase from 2013.

BYOD smartphones are predicted to increase in the coming years with a 30% annual growth from 2014 clear on through to 2017, according to a recent article in Computerworld. According to the same article, IDC predicts that 2014 will witness Android devices accounting for 111 million of the 175 million BYOD smartphones shipped, with Apple iOS devices coming in at 52 million. And let’s not forget the BlackBerry, Windows Phones, and others that will further complicate the platform landscape.

IDC goes on to forecast that in 2014 organizations will be faced with 175 million people worldwide taking advantage of BYOD policies that allow them to use smartphones they’ve purchased themselves. That’s almost double the amount of workers from 2012 (at 88 million). What about a few years down the line? IDC predicts that by 2017, we’ll see 328 million workers bringing personal smartphones to work.

As for company-purchased phones, we can expect to see an 11% annual growth. There were 61 million phones purchased for employee use in 2013. And that number is predicted to climb to 69 million in 2014. As for 2017, those numbers are expected to shoot up to 88 million.

What this means for IT

It means IT managers must find ways to support document and file exchange work across applications and form factors, while remaining compliant with security policies.

Seeing that Microsoft Office plays a big role in the workday of employees in the public and private sectors all over the world, it’s imperative that most organizations are able to access, share, and collaborate on MS Office content from their smartphone.

Microsoft SharePoint also plays a sizable role in many enterprise and government departments and agencies. According to an Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) survey, in 2010, one in two corporations was using SharePoint. This makes it essential for those IT departments to look at collaboration platforms that work with both MS Office and SharePoint.

On the user end, the workforce wants a seamless experience—one that allows for access to all the files and formats they’re familiar with. Ease of use is one of the most important things to everyone on this end. This means choosing a platform that works with Android and Apple iOS right out of the box. Otherwise, everyone will require training and full adoption becomes increasingly difficult.

And as we know, security is paramount when it comes to allowing employees to work from any mobile device, so IT must find solutions that are built with security protocols compliant with policies set forth in their organization. This goes beyond data encryption.

While all the challenges ahead are unclear—as each organization has its own set of priorities, when it comes to BYOD smartphones—one thing is clear; 2014 is already here, and now is the time to prepare for these challenges.

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