Consumerisation of IT – –the power of the user

What a beautiful morning! I was back for the second day in a row at the beautiful Grand Hotel in Stockholm for an IDC conference with the exciting topic: Consumerisation of IT. The entrance was packed with approximately 40 Chinese people in black suits. I felt a bit different, but soon I found the conference room which was full of my new friends; the CIO:s. There I felt at home since I understand and can talk their IT language. I don’t speak Chinese yet :). Approximately 100 people had signed up for the conference. I was very much looking forward to discuss the challenges and possibilities of consumerisation of IT with analysts and participants.

The introduction speech was held by Nils Molin the Director of IDC in the Nordic countries. He clearly stressed the importance of having a strategy to handle the consequences of Consumerisation of IT. According to IDC this is a trend that will have a MAJOR impact on organisations in the following years. The message was: You cannot stop it so you have to embrace it.

After the introduction it was time for Jason Anderson, analyst at IDC. The title of his presentation was simply Consumerisation of Enterprise IT. Not very exiting title but at least we knew what he was talking about.

Consumerisation changes the way we work. The user has now the power to decide how he wants to work. Consumerisation of IT can be categorised into three different areas:

BYOD – Bring your own device – tablet and mobile
BYOC– Bring your own computer
BYOS – Bring your own software. This area is the hottest trend right since it has the most impact on organisations. Users turn to a greater extent to user friendly cloud services and collaboration tools to be more efficient in their work. The need for a collaboration tool often occurs in the middle of a business process when the team needs to figure out HOW to solve a problem or a task. The team then identify that they need a place to solve problem together and have a common place to share tips and ideas. The group then independently of IT sets up a common workplace in for example Jive, Dropbox or Yammer. They represent cloud services are easy to get started with without the agreement of IT. The users mostly tend to provide themselves with software that has chat, video and document sharing functions.

Advantages: Better collaboration, better productivity
Concern: Security

I talked to many CIO:s in the breaks and the majority of them were aware that employees in their organisation use Dropbox. But if they see it, they tell the users to shut it down until they have proven the security. The CIO:s are responsible for the security of the organisations data and they don’t trust Dropbox. So they want to offer user friendly tools that the employees like so they don’t use other tools. With the BYOS trend they are afraid they have to guarantee the security of way too many cloud services.

Mobile devices are the most important personal device for the user. Regarding BYOD there are good solutions to handle security like for example Mobile Device Management for smartphones and tablets. It is very important for CIO to have a strategy and an understandable IT policy for how the employee should handle data.

So in short the recommendations are

1. Policy – BYOx strategies for all three units. The policy should cover all from skype to dropbox.
2. Focus operative system instead of devices
3. Computers – Virtual desktop solution is a must
4. Software – combine UC (unified communication) strategy with social network possibilities. Choose cloud solutions that also have mobile platform possibilities. Usability – The users have demands how the solution should work. Usability is number one – Here IT needs to evaluate the tool from the users perspective and not only what it important for them.

An interesting reflection from the speaker Patrik Ugander from Telia Solution Management  was that fact that we have a tendency to place all our employees in a box by telling them how to work and what tools to use. We say: In this company we only work with these tools. In some cases employees cannot do their job at the best possible way if he cannot use the tools he is used to work with. He drew a parallel when we need a plumber to do a job at our house. He brings his own tools to work with. Tools that work well for him. We don’t provide the plumber with tools. If we did he would surely not do a great job so why are we doing this in the enterprise?

There were also presentations from security companies and the law firm McKenzie & Baker to give more insight in those areas. I was completely fascinated about all the security hacker stories like Operation Shady RAT, RSA, HB Gary and Sony. 2011 was full of attacks.

To conclude it was a great conference with great presentations and discussions.

Here are my take aways:

  • Consumerisation of IT will have a MAJOR impact of organisations in the following years. You cannot stop it so you have to embrace it
  • Bring your own software (BYOS) hottest area within this trend. Users turn to a greater extent to user friendly cloud services to be more efficient in their work.
  • Concerns for CIO: Security. With the BYOS trend they are afraid they have to guarantee the security of way too many cloud services. So they want to be able to offer their user friendly tools that the employees like so they don’t use other tools.
  • Have a clear IT policy for how to use devices in the workplace. Be one step ahead to avoid both security and legal issues.

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