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Interview: Adopting consumer IT in the enterprise

T.C. Seow | Jan. 23, 2013
IT-savvy employees are ruling the enterprise with their own devices. Is this trend a boon or bane? What things must be done right to embrace this trend? CIO Asia talked to Yaj Mallik, Area Vice President (ASEAN) of Citrix on what issues enterprises need to be addressing in the era of BYOD and consumerisation of IT.

2. Empower users through self-service support, bring-your-own device (BYOD) policies and cloud computing
Employees today are already accustomed to selecting their own consumer computing devices, buying their own software and providing for their support through tools such as online forums, knowledge bases and remote support tools. By providing similar resources within the enterprise, CIOs make support more efficient and simplify it for employees by providing it through a self-service model.
A formal BYOD policy allows CIOs to securely embrace consumer devices in the workplace, empowering people to be more productive. Many users arrive at work each day with a smartphone in their pocket, and make frequent business use of it both at the office and at home. While this would have presented a support nightmare in the past, the hardware-independence enabled by virtualisation will spare CIOs the ability to support an infinite variety of consumer devices. In this way, CIOs can make work a seamless part of employees' lifestyles.
To keep pace with growing user expectations for more mobile workstyles, CIOs need to look at leveraging the economics and elasticity of the cloud. The first step would be to transform existing Windows applications and desktops into flexible cloud services that can be delivered securely to any devices on-demand.

3. Apply consumer models for social media, community and collaboration
IT consumerisation means that new technologies appear first in consumer markets before being adopted for business use. Social media is a perfect example: wikis, blogs, social networks and micro-blogs all gained popularity among consumers long before being grouped into social business software solutions and sold into the enterprise. Today, enterprises are using social media tools to share documents and collaborate with their teammates. Traditionally, CIOs have been wary about the introduction of consumer-focused products and services in the enterprise, but today's savvy employees instinctively seek out the best tools for their purposes. Rather than simply barring the door, CIOs should evaluate these consumer services with an open mind about their potential business value; after all, today's rogue application might just be tomorrow's breakthrough business solution—and the company that puts it to work first and best will have a head start on the competition.

4. Stay ahead of the curve
While the consumerisation of IT can be a boon to the enterprise, unchecked user empowerment can also lead to anarchy. All of the above strategies should be considered in the context of a well thought-out policy encompassing security, the appropriate use of resources—for example, what kinds of content can be posted on company social networks—and how new consumer technologies can be managed effectively without undermining their utility. CIOs should keep one eye out for emerging consumer technologies with potential business value, and the other for signs of such tools already being used within the enterprise.

 

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