BYOD (bring-your-own-device) has reached a tipping point in the workplace, with most businesses in a recent Symantec survey pondering development of custom applications or already running line-of-business applications on these handheld units.

The survey revealed 71% of respondents were discussing custom applications for smartphones and tablets. The research also found that 59% of respondents were running line-of-business applications on mobile devices, and 66% were considering development of corporate app stores for internal application distribution.

Users are moving from just messaging applications on mobile units to line-of-business applications, said Brian Duckering, senior manager with the endpoint management and mobility group at Symantec. "It's really becoming a core productivity device," Duckering said. Businesses are evolving from mere acceptance to actual productivity gains. Seventy-three percent found increased efficiency and productivity through mobile devices.

But half of respondents say mobile computing was somewhat to extremely challenging, and security remains a primary concern. "Everyone's worried about the risks," Duckering said. Concerns cited included lost or stolen devices, data leakage, unauthorised access, and the spread of malware. A single breach incident on a mobile device costs a theoretical $429,000 for an enterprise, including expenses such as regulatory fines. A breach for small or medium-size business was tabbed at $126,000.

Besides security, other IT priorities pertaining to mobile initiatives include backup, reducing cost, and complexity.

The survey's principle recommendations are to enable broadly, think strategically, manage efficiently, enforce appropriately, and secure comprehensively. The BYOD (bring your own device) phenomenon, in which employees utilise the device of their own choice for work instead of just for personal use, was not a major focus of the survey, but Duckering finds that BYOD is proliferating. "People are bringing devices in whether they're allowed to or not."

Performed by Applied Research, the study involved IT persons at 6,275 organisations, both enterprise-level and smaller businesses, in 43 countries.