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Google CIO: Don't fight consumerization of IT

Shane O'Neill | Oct. 4, 2011
In a Bloomberg Businessweek article, Google CIO Ben Fried reflects on the benefits of letting employees have their way with technology. Forrester Research agrees that IT managers should relinquish control, but not before methodically analyzing workers' wants and needs.

In a recent report entitled "The State of Workforce Technology Adoption: U.S. Benchmark 2011", Forrester analysts surveyed 4,985 information workers at U.S. organizations and outlined the productivity increases and reduced costs that can result from a thorough assessment of the technology wants and needs of workers.

One survey result that shows a transformation in personal devices in the workplace: When asked, "How did you choose the primary smartphone you use for work?" 48 percent answered that they picked the phone they want without considering what their company supports.

"To increase workforce productivity at the lowest possible cost, you need a baseline understanding of how and why your company's employees use the technology you provide and also the technology they adopt on their own," the report states.

"Without these objective facts, IT decisions are too easily swayed by technology hype cycles, corporate politics, or simply the squeaky wheel executive with a personal fetish for iPad apps."

This workforce behavior analysis extends to everything from determining which of your employees need an enterprise license for Microsoft Office to which mobile workers using their own personal smartphones have access to the most confidential data on their devices.

A key aspect of the consumerization of IT, according to the Forrester report, is knowing your workforce better than they know themselves, and always communicating with them.

"Don't jump to conclusions about how best to protect and support employees: Ask them first," states the Forrester report.

To know the workforce is to trust the workforce, and Google CIO Fried has been surprised at how something he once thought was counterintuitive (letting workers choose their own technology) has improved productivity at Google.

"The reason users choose a particular technology is probably because they knew it or liked it or wanted to know it," Fried writes. "All those things will lead to a better situation than if you just told them what they had to do."



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