The consumerization that generated the BYOD tidal wave is spilling over into new areas -- and causing additional concerns for IT.
Because many IT departments still struggle to manage the abundance of brands, devices, and operating systems that employees are bringing to their offices, it's no stretch that allowing workers to use their own applications, social networks, and clouds won't happen smoothly or overnight. But a groundswell of adoption will occur within the next 12 months or so, according to Siemens Enterprise Communications.
As Randy Roberts, vice president of the mobile portfolio at Siemens Enterprise Communications, told me:
The consumer is smart, and the consumer is also a worker. A lot of times, those same apps and solutions can make them productive, as well. The line between work and home has, frankly, disappeared. If you think about the IT guy, now it's even more challenging for him.
In a Blue Coat study conducted in November, 83 percent of organizations allowed employees to access company email on personal mobile devices, and 51 percent gave employees access to corporate instant messaging. However, only 31 percent granted that same freedom with enterprise resource planning software, 24 percent did so with sales force automation, and 19 percent allowed workers to log in to supply chain management.
This, however, assumes that IT managers know which applications employees are using. That is not necessarily the case, according to Roberts. "IT managers are unaware of two-thirds of the applications being used on their network," he said. "In 2013, I think it will grow even more and be self-evident."
Ross Sedgewick, vice president of global solutions marketing at Siemens Enterprise Communications, said that more employees, looking to eliminate the redundancies of creating the same work environment across multiple devices, are using personal clouds from providers like Box, iCloud, and Dropbox to store data. Personal clouds provide convenience and productivity, but corporate IT must be able to provide identity authentication, security, and encryption, he said. "Security will start to become part of the table stakes in file sharing and storage of personal cloud."
People don't want to try and figure out where a particular piece of data or a certain app resides. Instead, they want their tools and information to travel with them in a personal cloud they can access for either personal or business reasons. They may, for example, prefer the photo-editing software they use at home to the corporate-approved application, or a free time management app they use to track their kids' schedules may be ideal for managing a project.
For example, I prefer using IrfanView for working with photographs. There may be better tools out there, but for the limited amount of work I do on art, I haven't found it worthwhile to learn a different application (yet, anyway). We all have our favorites; most are from reliable developers and are used as standalone products simply to get a particular job done. Letting employees use their preferred tools for noncritical functions makes sense, especially if it means less demand for IT support.
That doesn't mean, of course, that we all get to choose our own payroll, customer relationship management, or enterprise resource planning solutions.
In fact, Siemens Enterprise Communications expects users and business managers to drive half of IT use decisions. As a result, IT will need to focus on centralized policies, security standards, and usage controls for all these bring your own technologies, the company said.
Will employees soon be bringing their clouds, as well as their devices, to work?
— Alison Diana , ThinkerNet Editor, Internet Evolution