By: Josh Stevens, Vice President of E-Commerce, YouSendIt
Integrating consumer solutions into the enterprise environment is at its core a question of how IT will make decisions.
Consumerization presents corporate IT with a leadership opportunity. While fulfilling its charter to provide security and control systems, IT can now also enable end-user convenience that will improve productivity. First IT must embrace new consumer technologies and succeed at this balancing act; if not IT runs the risk of becoming a barrier to productivity and cost reduction.
The secret for IT dealing with the incursion of consumer technology into the enterprise is to embrace what’s good, control what’s risky and educate people about technology that’s unsuitable for use in the business. IT’s challenge will not be around technology and standards – setting limits and narrowing choice – but around helping manage this new hybrid of consumer and enterprise solutions and providing guidance to the business on the optimal deployment models to ensure employee productivity. IT is in a position to move to a strategic, trusted advisory role helping guide key technology, policy and business-related considerations.
IT’s dilemma: Security or user enablement?
Today, employees are discovering and working with a multitude of inexpensive, easy-to-use tools that deliver exceptional user experience and enhance productivity.
Whether they know it or not, every company has a department or individual using some non-IT-sanctioned cloud service to get their work done. Often these stealth consumer tools result in massive amounts of company data stored outside the corporate firewall. Needless to say, this practice flies in the face of IT’s traditional charter, which is to provide data security, while managing and controlling company technology.
The current recession has forced companies everywhere to make some very difficult decisions relating to personnel, assets, budgets and initiatives. Staffs have been slashed and budgets greatly reduced, making it very difficult for IT to keep up with the requirements demanded by the business. Ironically, the current down economic climate has actually accelerated the consumerization of IT.
Business users adopt consumer tools for convenience
Employees are asked to do more and to do it more quickly. With this mandate, many are turning to any resource they can make use of outside the corporate network. Employees flip back and forth from their home lives to their business lives and want to use the same tool set to accomplish their jobs as they do at home.
Most corporate leaders understand that if they want greater productivity it’s not going to happen by asking employees to spend an additional 20 hours a week at their desks. If companies want to realize productivity gains they must be more flexible with home and business transitions. Consumer tools and devices enable this transition.
If an employee can take a break during their child’s soccer game, to say download a contract onto their smartphone, then review, annotate, sign and send it along to other team members, the business derives a great deal of benefit by accelerating the time to value. IT can be leading that charge and enabling the productivity gains that every business strives for.
Embrace the useful, control the risky
To be certain, the consumerization of IT is surely a disruptive trend. The best way to deal with a disruptive trend is head-on, anticipating the changes it will create and exploiting those changes for competitive advantage.
Preparing for and creating a strategy for allowing consumer technology to co-exist within the enterprise can mean many things. There are some basic principles that CIOs and IT managers can follow.
If employees are to be truly productive they need to use tools that complement the way they work, wherever they are. That knowledge workers use new, inexpensive tools and services to complete tasks more quickly rather than relying on what companies normally provision should be viewed as a boon, not a dilemma. If IT can help the business evaluate consumer tools, understand the use case and securely manage these tools, companies should be able to save