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Say Hello to the new ‘Consumerized IT’ workplace

Ambarish Deshpande
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Ambarish Deshpande
The rapid proliferation of smart devices such as smart phones, PDAs and laptops is more than just a marketing and technological success story. These compact multi-functional devices have been responsible for changing the economic and social fabric globally by being an integral part of our daily environment. At the core of this phenomenon is the fact that these powerful devices can serve as a single point gateway to accessing information, making transactions, seeking products, downloading entertainment – anywhere and anytime.

However the ubiquity of smart devices is also posing as a major challenge confronting organisations today. Having grown up in the age of iphones and iPads, today’s ‘Generation Y’ comprising of technologically savvy, mobile, job hopping professionals is increasingly insisting on using their own devices at their workplaces to ensure uninterrupted access to company information and faster turnaround and productivity to meet the imperatives of today’s competitive workplaces. But imagine a scenario when an employee uses three to four smart devices to juggle between various applications such as social networking sites, consumer applications for banking or travelling and business applications such as CRM, databases and others; using all these devices interchangeably for business and personal activities. This certainly implies opening a Pandora’s box of issues associated with unauthorised access and subsequent data thefts!

This phenomenon that is redefining the functioning of workplaces is referred as ‘Consumerization of IT’ and is touted to be one of the most radical and irreversible transformations in Enterprise IT.

Consumerization: To adopt or not to adopt According to a McAfee survey conducted in 2010 with global IT decision-makers, administrators, consultants, and security analysts, the key drivers of Consumerization of IT are increased employee productivity (58 percent) and greater flexibility and turnaround time (52 percent). However the security risks pertaining to this trend have made many organizations firmly oppose it by restricting the introduction of personal devices into the workplace and attempting to lock down data. This however could be deemed as an escapist approach. Very few companies realise that productivity benefits aside, the willingness to embrace ‘Consumerization of IT’ presents an opportunity for companies to save their capital expenses by leveraging their employees’ pre-existing investments in such powerful devices. The way to make this trend work in your favour is by understanding the needs of an organisation and building a suitable strategy that incorporates this new future of work.

So how can organisations leverage the productivity and cost benefits of this trend without being affected by its security challenges? McAfee recommends the following strategies for organisations to lift their veil of uncertainty around this trend and leverage it as a productivity catalyst:

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