Apple Watch. Credit Apple

The Apple Watch launch will once again bring into sharp focus the issue of staff using their own technology for work and thus fuel the ongoing BYOD debate. Whether or not CIOs have a strategy to embrace BYOD, it will soon become inevitable that employees will want to sync Outlook calendars, manage emails and receive business or personal alerts by a simple tap on the wrist.

BYOD is not going to go away, it's pervasive, and as technology becomes more personal, more wearable, staff will increasingly wish to put their personal technology to business use. As such, the reluctance of organisations to adopt BYOD will have to change and it will be down to the CIO to lead this change and ensure the policies are in place with respect to data security, network access, taxation and support.

It's no surprise therefore that the 2014 CIO 100 are leading the way in their adoption of BYOD with 81% of organisations now supporting BYOD to some degree. However, it's interesting to look behind this headline figure, since BYOD adoption is not universal and some sectors have been a lot more willing to take the plunge - and have become the first to realise the benefits. It will be interesting to investigate the trends and any changes in adoption when the 2015 CIO 100 is announced on April 23.

Big business being 'schooled' by the charity sector?

It's no surprise that when it comes to sectors looking to save money, the UK charity sector is at the leading edge of BYOD adoption. A sector that has always been careful, almost frugal, in their IT expenditure, all five of CIO 100 from this sector has become big advocates of BYOD because of its potential for cost savings and productivity benefits.

Sarah Flannigan, CIO at the National Trust, was an early adopter of BYOD and has seen IT savings, essential to a charity, by staff swapping their work device for their own. She said: "For the first time ever, this year our IT budget has gone down not up - despite delivering more IT to a higher quality than before."

Others in the sector have seen productivity improvements. According to Kevin Corbett, IT Director at social housing organisation Affinity Sutton, this approach "has a positive impact on our ways of working. Our customer satisfaction remains in excess of 80% which is very high for the social housing sector". These benefits are shared with another in the sector, Kevin Connell, then CIO at Circle Housing and now CIO at Southern Housing, who was clear that "employees increasingly wish to use their own devices and this is actively supported to enable our employees to work the way that they wish".

But it's not just the charity sector that is seeing very high adoption of BYOD. Some 83% of CIOs from the Professional Services sector in the CIO 100 now embrace BYOD with Lance Fisher CIO at SThree being able to attribute a "provable increase in their profits" due to the adoption of BYOD. As a 'people-based' sector, professional services companies are always looking for tools that increase staff productivity and effectiveness, and no more so than Craig Ambler, CIO at Capita Healthcare who recognises that BYOD "is allowing people to be more mobile in their communication and collaboration" which in turn demonstrates innovation - an important differentiator to their customers.

Broad cross-industry adoption

As expected, CIOs from media, financial services and retail have been quick to embrace BYOD with many enjoying benefits of cost reduction, staff satisfaction and increased productivity.

For example in the financial services sector, Barclays Bank are well on track to replace 45,000 BlackBerrys with employee-owned devices, while at their CIO Tim Jones has set it as an IT target "to get someone working in minutes with their own kit, bureaucracy being a blocker to productivity". RSA have taken a top-down approach, by first enabling BYOD for their executive team and then looking to see how the lessons learned can be applied further down in the organisation where agents interact directly with customers.

Some of the benefits that AXA are seeing are direct cost savings. According to their COO and CIO, Kevin Murray, "BYOD is in place and working today. It's a must for employee engagement and it's less expensive for us".

Within Retail, fashion brands at both ends of the market are enjoying the benefits of BYOD with the CIOs of both Paul Smith and New Look advocates of this approach. In the case of New Look they are able to become device agnostic by focusing on securing data at the source, not at the device. Within M and M, IT Director Graham Benson views their adoption of BYOD as enabling them to become closer to their customers since staff adoption of their own technology mirrors how their customers ultimately engage with the brand.

Within the media sector, it's not surprising that they are actively pursuing a strategy of mobility of which employed-owned devices play an important part. For example, the FT actively supports BYOD with the editorial team routinely using mobile devices for video production. At Channel 4, they allow staff to access email from any personally owned device, with an executive led information security steering group which advises on and has final approval for policies around BYOD.

Using BYOD to get closer to their customers is a strategy also adopted by GLH, a leading hotels and leisure company where CIO Chris Hewertson has been a BYOD advocate for many years. "Getting staff from behind their desks and in front of our customers is very important to GLH and BYOD is one strategy that is helping us achieve this," Hewertson explained.

Not yet a universal panacea

However, as with any technology strategy, BYOD is not appropriate for all of The CIO 100. Valid security concerns will prevent staff from using their personal devices, with the British Army a good case in point. According to Alan Hill, former CIO at British Army who is now at the Ministry of Defence, the use of personal devices on military operations is not allowed for "extremely valid security reasons" but he is considering how to take forward advances in BYOD for "education and training". The same is true in some regards within the Metropolitan Police with the ability to use BYOD being "extremely limited" due to security considerations, although personal smartphones are now being used by some staff to help them do their jobs with respect to Google Maps, search and the like.

Some industry sectors have also been slower than others to adopt BYOD, with Communications & Science companies surprisingly having lower level of adoption than the industry average. While the larger players in this sector such as IBM and Telefonica have mature BYOD programmes in place, some of the other companies from this sector such as Genus and Plusnet have taken a different approach. For example, Keith Hopkinson CIO at Genus plc believes that by the continuing to provide staff with the latest technology the organisation will avoid a build-up of desire for BYOD and thereby provide the company with greater control of their environment. Interestingly, this focus on maintaining control contrasts with the views of DX Group, whose CIO Mike Sturrock has taken the opposite approach of actively trying not to control everything since "that's not credible. I can provide the mission-critical services for the business and ring-fence data that needs to be, but beyond this I see it as a strength of the company that we can accommodate innovation and challenge from all sides".

Even within sectors that are actively embracing BYOD, not all companies are convinced. Jack Cutts at The Nottingham Building Society is waiting for security and stability concerns to be addressed before he will consider wider use.

Starting with the smartphone?

Knowing where to start on the BYOD journey is critical, since some initiatives will clearly have a greater return on investment, or a great probability of adoption, than others. Within the manufacturing sector, an industry with high levels of BYOD adoption across the CIO 100, the place to start has been with the smartphone. Shaun Mundy at Oxford Instruments was able to observe that his users "were applying BYOD within the smartphone space" and as a result the organisation has developed policies to better control it. Another manufacturer to start their BYOD journey with the smartphone was former CIO at Unilever Willem Ellman, whose experience has seen BYOD "being first implemented for smartphones and tablets. We have experimented with BYOD for laptops but have found this more difficult to embrace".

This focus on smartphones and tablets as the place to start with BYOD is shared with Jane Scott, CIO at Mars, who reasoned that while "a BYOD policy for mobile phones and tablets was already in place" when she joined Mars it is currently being considered for expansion.

The decision to start the BYOD journey with smartphones was also the route taken by Clive Selley, CIO at BT. BYOD takes a significant place in the company's IT strategy, and the business actively encourages BYOD for smartphones and tablets. BT now have about 10,000 employees worldwide using their own devices which will represent significant cost displacement for the telecoms giant.

Apple - calling time on the corporate mobile?

And so while BYOD adoption has been increasing of its own accord, the launch of the Apple Watch and other wearable offerings from Huawei and Samsung are going to once again challenge those organisations and individuals that have been resisting BYOD.

At what point does an organisation realise that personally provided technology is a trend that is here to stay, and that the sooner the CIO can ensure policies are put in place to protect the organisation and the individual then the sooner the benefits to both can be realised.

In fact, if one looks at the humble smartphone, it's not difficult to imagine a scenario in two or three years where CIOs will look back on the days that smartphones were routinely provided to staff as quaintly as they do the typing pool and the 3pm tea service.

James Foley is VP of Customer Experience at smartnumbers. Smartnumbers also published a sponsored article on CIO UK last week - 'Two numbers on one phone and business benefits of BYOD'