Within the last week Apple has launched the iPad mini and a new MacBook. Microsoft introduced Windows 8 and its Surface tablet and Amazon is shipping the Kindle Fire HD. With sleek design, portability and power it’s hardly surprising that consumer devices are finding their way into the workplace. This raft of new launches will only accelerate the trend.
All of these devices are also packed with features to deliver more software as applications. The flexibility and accessibility of apps mean that staff are increasingly turning to tools like Dropbox and Quora to help them with their work.
Without creating technical challenges as devices and software interact with each other and with all this fast-paced development, it can be hard to avoid losing control of security and confidential company information.
Here are five ways to ensure your company keeps pace with all the gizmos:
Identify your ‘mobile elite’ – our research suggests that a relatively small group of individuals (17%) are dictating the pace of consumer technology and applications in the workplace. Nearly three-quarters of this group (71%) are using apps to communicate with customers, partners and suppliers and are incredibly well-informed about making the most of these professionally. Identify the ‘mobile elite’ in your organisation and use their experience to understand the benefits and practical uses the new consumer technologies can have in your organisation.
Review policies – a surprising 83% of the ‘mobile elite’ are already using non-supported apps and websites for work purposes yet 81% of companies see this as potential grounds for dismissal. There is clearly a huge gap between employers and employees about usage. Review your corporate, HR and legal policies as well as IT strategies now so that as the majority of staff follow the ‘mobile elite’ and start to use these new technologies, constructive advice is available about the risks and opportunities.
Make consumerisation a perk – graduates are arriving on the first day of their new jobs expecting to be able to plug in their laptop and log on. For many staff, company subsidies contributing towards buying devices and the flexibility to choose and use consumer technologies is an attractive benefit. Up to 69% of the ‘mobile elite’ believe personal devices and applications contribute to higher job satisfaction and a better work-life balance and active promotion of this as a perk is a way of attracting, retaining and motivating talent.
Consumerisation of data – that said, whilst making it easier to access information via apps, it is also important to appreciate the shift in risk around corporate data. In the past lost USB keys and devices were a problem but organisations should now be thinking about how they protect information and be proactive in providing secure locations for data through file sharing apps and cloud-based storage.
Costs of consumerisation – consumerisation has the potential to radically reshape the way IT is owned and managed. Investment in IT may shift from capital investment in new computers towards subsidising staff to bring their own technology and outsourced service-based contracts for managing, supporting and securing devices and applications. Investment in software is likely to shift from traditional big software purchases towards development and integration to deliver services via apps; software is also likely to become specialised to perform a single task – in a similar way to consumer apps.
Thinking creatively about financing corporate IT could lead to greater efficiency and lower capital and operational expenditure.
Nick Fraser managing director of Unisys UK, Middle East & Africa