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ANZ SMBs welcome BYO Skype, Dropbox despite security concerns

Australian and New Zealand SMBs are embracing consumer apps like Dropbox and Skype more than US and UK counterparts, but are likely the least prepared while few have explicit policies to manage them.

Security is a top concern amongst SMBs over consumer apps at work, but in many cases the business ends up endorsing these apps, according to a survey of 1,200 IT pros by US app-maker LogMeIn.

The 127 Australian and New Zealand respondents that participated revealed that BYO apps are particularly popular in the region compared with North America or Britain/Ireland, with slightly higher rates of adoption of cloud sync/storage services, collaboration, remote access, productivity, and social apps.

The survey found the most popular applications (from a set of 8) amongst ANZ SMBs were Skype (60 percent), Google Apps (46 percent), Dropbox (25 percent) and Microsoft Office 365 (25 percent). The rate of Office 365 usage in ANZ was less than half that of the US and UK, while Skype usage was higher amongst ANZ businesses.

The adoption across ANZ of cloud-sync services -- for example, Dropbox, Drive, SkyDrive or LogMeIn’s own in-beta Cubby -- has been led by employees and “endorsed” by the business in 32 percent of cases. By contrast, in the US companies (37 percent) rather than employees (21 percent) were more likely to initiate the adoption of cloud-sync services, while in the UK the split was even.

A similar pattern occurred in collaboration, where ANZ employees initiated usage that was later endorsed by the business, while in the US it was far more common for companies (47 percent) to introduce the apps rather than employees (16 percent).

ANZ SMBs may be warmly embracing employees’ selection of consumer apps, however they could be the least well prepared. Just 15 per cent of ANZ respondents (either internal IT staff or external IT contractors reporting on clients) considered the business to be “very prepared”, compared with 22 per cent in the US and 27 percent in the UK.

ANZ SMBs also came up short on policy, with 23 percent having no BYO app policy in place, compared with 15 percent each in the US and UK.

Meanwhile, respondents across the board considered the most risky apps to be cloud sync and storage apps.

"As with the BYOD trend before it, we're seeing an increasing number of businesses embracing the rise of employee-introduced applications entering the workplace, in spite of the inherent security concerns,” Andrew Burton, senior vice president of products, LogMeIn said in a statement.

"This research makes it fairly clear that there is yet to be an agreed upon way for SMBs to best manage and secure the influx of these apps into the workplace…or the sensitive data created by and shared within them."

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