Smartphones: Risky Workplace Addiction?
Some of us have gotten a little attached to our phones.
I'm as guilty as anyone. I keep my smartphone in my pocket almost constantly. It's got my personal and work email, access to practically all my photos and notes, and apps for all my social media accounts. It's my alarm clock and my alarm system manager.
Apparently, I'm not acting my age.
Cisco Systems surveyed 1,800 Gen-Y workers worldwide in August, ages 18-30 for its Connected World Technology Report. They also surveyed 1,800 I.T. managers. The thrust of the questions: Just how attached are Gen Y-ers to their smartphones and social media? And how many rules are they willing to break to get their mobile fix?
Among the more sobering findings:
About 60 percent of the surveyed workers check their phones compulsively during the day. Two out of five would feel anxious if they couldn't check their phones constantly.
They're checking everywhere. In bed: 75 percent. During meals with family and friends: 50 percent. In the bathroom: 33 percent. In the car: 20 percent.
Facebook rules, particularly in this generation. Now 87 percent of those surveyed have a Facebook account, and 41 percent update it at least once daily. Meanwhile 56 percent have a Twitter account and 21 percent update it daily.
Here's the kicker for corporate leaders to worry about, though: Of those Gen Y workers who said their employer had a policy against using corporate smartphones for personal activity, a whopping 71 percent said they disobey the policy. I.T. managers, meanwhile, seem to be relatively clueless: 50 percent believe their employees obey those policies. (Of course, it's possible that the rule breakers all work for the same companies.)
So what are the investor takeaways?
The smartphone is not only quickly surpassing the PC as the go-to device for productivity, it's becoming a part of the user's life and identity at an unprecedented level. That's great if you want your workforce available 24/7. It's not so great if you're worried about security threats.
That could make for some interesting dynamics in 2013. Research in Motion's BlackBerry 10 operating system has an interesting feature that allows companies to create a special, protected work space on the phone that belongs to the company. If the worker leaves, the company can wipe out just the corporate environment in the device.
Will that make companies want to buy BlackBerrys? Maybe. But I doubt that alone will make real people want BlackBerrys, and that's the real issue. Either way though, companies will need something like the level of security RIM has built into BlackBerry 10. It's just a question of who's going to bring it to market.
—By CNBC's Jon Fortt; Follow him on Twitter: @jonfortt