Talking regularly* about the consumerization of IT can often make one sound like a broken record, but the economic, security and management challenges it throws up for enterprises are too important to ignore.
The problems boil down to a lack of control, which can be described in two key ways. IT departments of course are built on policies, planning and predictability, but the introduction of technology from the consumer sphere, even when purchased centrally by IT teams for use in the enterprise, creates its own problems. It’s sexy and easy-to-use but it’s certainly not built with security and manageability in mind and will usually fall short of IT’s typical expectations. Products from the likes of Google and Apple, for example, whose respective mobile platforms iOS and Android now account for the lion’s share of the market, are great at serving the needs of consumers but have been extremely slow at embracing enterprise requirements. There is no enterprise sales or support culture with these vendors and there is little transparency with product roadmaps, which takes corporate IT managers completely out of their comfort zone.
The second problem is that, whether consumer-focused tech or not, applications and devices are being brought into the corporate world via the individual employee rather than being mandated from IT, which is the complete opposite of what normally happens. Most IT teams simply aren’t set up to work in this way, and it will require a fundamental change of thinking to ensure consumerization is handled properly.
Rather than adopt the classic head-in-the-sand approach of old, CIOs and IT bosses need to embrace consumerization and take a proactive, strategic approach built around flexible policies and the right security and management tools. Firstly, BYOD policies can’t be created in a vacuum – IT leaders need to sit down with line of business managers in all parts of the organization to figure out what their employees would like to use and how to make that possible. Thus IT is taking the initiative and reaching out in an inclusive, proactive manner.
Secondly, policies must be drawn up to be more flexible and fluid. In a world where everyone in the organization from the CEO down needs to be managed, there can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to policy making. IT needs to think carefully and map technology and policies to the various user groups. Finally, they need the right infrastructure technologies to help enable all of this. Of course, this is an area where established enterprise vendors such as Trend Micro can help – to enable the secure management of consumer devices and services so that employees are happy and more productive, risks are managed and the business flourishes.
Post based on a recent podcast produced by the Financial Times featuring Cesare Garlati, head of consumerisation at Trend Micro, on some of the downsides of bringing your own device to work.
Listen to the FT Connected Business podcast at – http://podcast.ft.com/index.php?pid=1398