“Oftentimes, the technology you use at home is far more powerful and more current than the tech you use in the workplace,” he said.
So this trend toward employees using their own devices is growing in offices across the country.
“It’s not just that I’m bringing my iPhone to work,” Mr. Gardiner said. “It’s that I’m bringing my iPhone, my iPad and my laptop. Think about the spike in network traffic. It’s substantial.”
Taking a toll
The problem is that these additional devices are taking a toll on workplace networks that companies aren’t prepared to handle.
Network outages are more common than many Internet users realize, even among the industry’s best-known brands, said Chris Dornfeld, co-founder of DownRightNow.com. His company monitors 16 top tech websites, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Netflix and YouTube, and notifies users of all disruptions.
“I would say every day at least one of the sites we monitor has a significant outage,” Mr. Dornfeld said.
Many of these companies experience growing pains because they are not ready for traffic spikes that can come from the instant popularity of a new social network or a viral video, he said.
“When [companies] are still young, they often experience very rapid growth in audience,” Mr. Dornfeld said. “So they must scramble to keep up with that demand.”
These problems often occur when companies don’t maintain their websites properly, he said.
Even top tech sites aren’t immune to network outages. Last year, Amazon suffered a network outage in its Northern Virginia data center that affected a number of popular websites that use its cloud services, including such heavy-traffic clients as Foursquare, Reddit, Netflix and Instagram, which all went offline for hours.
“They had their own outage and that sort of had a domino effect on these other companies that also fell over because they were relying on Amazon,” Mr. Dornfeld said.
Verizon, which bills itself as the nation’s “most reliable network,” had three outages in December alone.
Microsoft also experienced an outage last year that shut down Office 365, Hotmail, SkyDrive and Windows Live.
This is happening, Mr. Brooks said, because companies are so focused on network security that they neglect to install the necessary upgrades to keep the system running smoothly.