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Consumerization of IT: Are you Ready for the Future?

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The consumption of IT has transformed drastically in the last decade. Consumers today are spoilt for choices and have greater flexibility in technology usage. A cell phone is as good as the computer and the computing devices are progressively becoming smaller. 

Consumerization of IT is here to stay, thanks to the accessibility and pervasiveness of technology that gives people the freedom to work anywhere, anytime. By striking a fine balance between freedom and control, enterprises can embrace consumerization and unlock the opportunities of workplace without barriers. A strategic approach towards consumerization can reduce security risks, financial exposure, and management woes.

Offices Going to Homes

As technology is dissolving the line between personal and professional space, employees want to use the same devices in homes and offices. An IDC survey says that 40.7 percent of the devices used by employees to access business applications are owned by themselves, including home PCs, smartphones, and tablets such as Apple's iPad. These numbers are up 10 percent over last year's 30.7 percent. 

Although this trend is good for business, it also poses risks in terms of security and compliance. The challenge for IT is to strike a balance between customer expectations and the organization's privacy policies. 

Security Concerns

Enabling employees choose to their devices is equivalent to empowering them. With social networking, cloud computing and digital streaming, business is rapidly moving in the direction of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). 

But how do organizations secure confidential data that resides on these devices, which could either get lost or stolen? Security risks arising out of BYOD can be mitigated by understanding the detailed security requirements for each type of personal device that is connected to the corporate network. IT should ensure that these devices are configured with passwords, and prohibit specific types of applications from being installed on the device or require all data on the device to be encrypted. 

Other BYOD security policy initiatives may include limiting the activities that employees are allowed to perform on these devices at work, coupled with timely IT checks to ensure the devices are in compliance with the policy. This problem can be countered by keeping all the applications virtualized and centralized at one place from where users can have a single point access as a service on any device. Issues relating to data loss can be handled by not placing any data on the employee's machine and by just 'streaming' the files. 

While every company will have to customize its BYOD/ BYOT program to suit the needs, there are ways in which companies can maximize productivity and employee engagement. We believe happy employees are more productive. Flexibility, cost-savings and improved employee engagement are just some of the benefits of implementing a BYOD program. 

The Future: Consumerization

The "Consumer-Centric IT" is brining traditional IT model to its knees. It is a powerful new way to work. At Mindlance, we believe that this IT leap will transform organizations over the next three to five years and unleash a new wave of business productivity. Yet, most organizations are poorly prepared to capitalize on this resourceful movement. Capitalizing on it means boosting productivity with new ways of connecting and sharing, staying competitive as an innovative company and workplace, and delivering IT flexibly while managing security.

Tech Savvy 'i-workers' are not demanding change--they are driving it through continued usage while keeping pace with the dynamic world of information technology. While they are fairly familiar with technology, they have little understanding of the security risks, company policies, management issues, and governance implications that arise from the introduction of consumer devices and applications in the workplace.

Those companies, which are ready to ride the future of consumer-powered IT, will definitely gain from the huge tide of innovation. Such organizations will be built on fundamentals of flexibility, cost effectiveness, a better engaged workforce and an edge over competitors.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Kamal Sharma is the Group CIO of Mindlance. ...

More about  Kamal Sharma

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