Hey CIOs, Stop Saying 'No' To Consumer Tech - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // Digital Business
04:00 PM
Frank Palermo
Frank Palermo

Hey CIOs, Stop Saying 'No' To Consumer Tech

CIOs can learn from Consumerization 2.0 issues such as restless employees, shadow IT, and BYOD.

According to Gartner, in 2012-2013, 64% of enterprises said mobility projects forged ahead without the full involvement of IT, with employees acquiring connected mobile devices, personal DropBox accounts, and even developing personal applications through Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure.

"We don't need IT anymore" became the tagline for the consumerization of IT 1.0 movement over the past few years where employees moved to independence through programs like bring-your-own-device (BYOD).

By the end of 2013, even cautious companies in heavily regulated industries began to embrace this consumerization. Just 18 months ago, Wells Fargo stated that BYOD wasn't in the cards, but today the bank is testing its use/rollout. There was a time when CIOs thought that tablets had no use in a business environment. Now tablets are changing the way employees communicate, especially those in the field. The CIO of Verizon Wireless indicated that its field technicians have reinvented themselves as sales consultants because of tablets, with the ability to demo new products and track service calls.

[ How will the advent of social transform the role of the CIO? Read Picturing Your Social Business In 2020. ]

But freedom has its price. With the recent news that 4.6 million Snapchat accounts had been hacked and Skype and other social sites being taken over by the Syrian Electronic Army, questions on security for consumer platforms keep surfacing.

Security and other new challenges arising from the consumerization movement mean that CIOs need to make sure that services are secured, tested, reliable, and integrated into the enterprise application stack. Step one is accepting that these consumer paradigms are here to stay.

Consumerization 2.0 will be about the re-emergence of the CIO as the person in charge of integrating, securing, and accelerating consumer technology and the application development process. The payoff for CIOs: They can establish themselves as a formidable business partners, avoid shadow IT, and, most important, remain relevant.

So how do they do it? Here are some best practices:

Design for mobile first
Don't design applications for the desktop/web and treat mobile as an afterthought. Designing for mobile first and making sure the best layouts are in place for controls and functions will lead to a more engaging experience for users. It also allows you to take advantage of devices' native features such as location-based services to provide a more personalize experience.

Flipboard was able to disrupt the publishing industry by focusing on creating a new reading aggregation service specifically designed for tablets. It was only after the application gained popularity that it was considered a web interface.

Learn and leverage the cloud
The cloud can solve some of the enterprise's most challenging storage, computational, and infrastructure issues, but many are not taking full advantage of cloud benefits such as quick acquisition of infrastructure allowing faster application deployment, flexible capacity for scaling to easily service peak business needs or new lines of business, and pay as you go models to reduce up-front capital expenses. Before implementing, decide where the cloud will offer you the most value. If you are concerned with the security of popular cloud storage services such as DropBox and Google Drive, consider providing users with internal equivalents.

Also, consider switching email and office productivity suites to the cloud. Cloud productivity tools let users collaborate and access files remotely from a variety of devices. IT organizations benefit from reduced licensing costs in addition to freed up time. 

Protect and secure your mobile devices
BYOD programs are great -- they let employees use the devices they're familiar with. But, they also come with countless problems such as data security and managed control. Many companies have already implemented mobile device management (MDM) software such as Airwatch, MobileIron, and Good for managed control of devices and applications. While that's good for easily wiping the device if the employee leaves or loses the device, it does not address all of the concerns. There is still the risk of data leakage. Even though VPNs create a secure tunnel for approved applications, rogue apps installed on the device make it vulnerable to security breaches as those apps are not included in the VPN tunnel.   

Be social
Sure, employees surfing Facebook on company time is a drain on funds and resources, but when used correctly, social channels can help employees collaborate by creating discussion groups on topics of interest that invite all levels of the organization, without hierarchy, to exchange ideas or voice concerns. Yammer's "YamJam" sessions, for example, bring together a group to discuss a particular issue. It's a great way for IT leaders to get real-time input on their service levels and performance.

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Frank Palermo is the head of the Global Technical Solutions Group for IT consulting and services company Virtusa. The group is responsible for creating an overall go-to-market strategy for clients in technology areas such as business process management (BPM), enterprise ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
2/11/2014 | 10:39:04 AM
Re: Hey Tech Media! It is time for you to be our voice and push back
I actually found Franks comments interesting.  The role of the CIO has and probably will continue to evolve if not accelerate. It is certainly not a static role or one for someone with a weak constitution! I am NOT a technocal person by IT standards; I work on the business side if you will.  I have the utmost respect for my IT colleagues.  Theirs is a very precise skill, one that doesn't allow much fudging.  That said, what I gathered form Franks high-level write-up is we recognize the plethora of change and associated pressure to try to keep up, we now need to embrace it, set polices to use/leverage these changes in an organized, prudent manner.  As far as vendors rolling out untested services, all I can say to that is as users (Consumers and Enterprise) of technology, we need to be diligent in our choices. I was at a CIO briefing a week ago, and he told the audience that he told his Board:" its not a matter of IF we will have a security breach, its a matter of when".  And this CIO is uber security prudent given the industry he represents.  But he also said we have to balance the benefits against the risks and manage technology as a tool, not the end all.  He said its not what happens to us, its what and how we (plan) to respond when it does happen.  THAT is what I gathered from Franks message.  Its not a matter of Consumerizm 2.0, BYOD or BYOT (Technology), M2M, Millenials, Social, cloud...etc.  I think these realities are here to stay, we just need to begin to embrace them and build future proof approachs to support the evolution of technology. I do agree with you that IT may be under-appreciated for what they provide given above referenced rapidly changing technology environment. But I think that is changing alot as well.  I see more CIOs well informed about their business's business and CFO/CMO/COO very cognizant of their companies technology capabilities to deliver services to their customers.   Apologize for any typo's...its my handheld device fault.
User Rank: Strategist
2/7/2014 | 7:28:09 AM
Hey Tech Media! It is time for you to be our voice and push back
Your article is nothing new to us who are trying to keep the business data infrastructures safe and profitable. The problem is public education of the users. We are already very clear regarding options, strategies, threats etc, however, our stakeholder partners are not. They do not realize the risks they are taking with the corporate resources because they simply do not know what the implications are. To them, technology is now a form of magic, and they are happy that way. Unfortunately, the glossy brochures hide the downsides of most technological implementations and another salesperson would never lie to you right? And these salespeople obviously know that wonder magic technology 'X' is safe and secure for the crown jewels of your departments IP right? Ahem... You, as the author of articles like this, are reinforcing that very dangerous opinion. The risks are loss of client lists, data breaches in finacials, competitive "acqusition" (ok basic theft) of strategic product designs... the list goes on and on. The truth is the vendors are rushing products to market, that in reality, barely qualify as a solid beta release. Devices are coming on the market with security holes you can drive a truck through. Consider what just happened to Target, the breach seems to be sourced by the access an HVAC contractor had! Data loss due to access available at the thermostats? (Yes hyperbolic, but it's to make a point) So ya don't need IT? How do you set your thermostat, using a smartphone maybe? Oh Yeah! BYOD baby, make it easy for the black hats out there.

And quit saying BYOD like it's something new! This is a rehash of lessons learned from the 80's. Drop that fricken buzzword before someone puts their eye out with it. You forget that the IT policies were built on the foundation of BYOD from the very first cycle with desktops! Can you say lessons learned the expensive way? No value there hmm? How about writing an article from that perspective? Or is Information Week now just a hype channel versus a tech resource?

We hear our stakeholders everyday, and people like you are making it harder to prevent the epic fails like Target had. The Epic Fails are Preventable. Crackers and hackers are not gods, they just take advantage of the glaring holes we leave them to walk through. The policies and strategies to combat these threats are in the domain of IT. Not Sales, not Marketing, not Accounting, not Engineering, nor Adminstration because these departments are basically walking unarmed targets on that battlefield. IT is not what they "DO," nor should they if they are doing their job functions.

But hey, its your cloud data being backed up in Utah by the NSA thanks to PRISM. All of your data.. Yes Janet, even those pictures of the christmas party. (Wow let's spin that an Obama government service initiative to protect the business data with real-time backups.. Of course you can't restore from it but hey it is all there.) And you do know this means there is a huge backdoor in ALL of the cloud and major hosting providers. Do you think the black hats haven't picked that lock yet (or are working on picking it as we speak?)

You did read the EULA and Privacy agreement for dropbox right? All of it? Read it again. Same with facebook. No, actually read them this time. A little education really does go a long way. So "why don't we just" let IT do it's job of saving your business from making the mistakes that have already been made before. Why pay for the lesson twice. Or does the corporate bottom line paying your salary really mean that little to you? This is only the stuff that keeps you employed and give you money right?
Ian Bruce
Ian Bruce,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2014 | 10:26:24 AM
Companies remain concerned about data security and privacy
You make the following comment:


"By the end of 2013, even cautious companies in heavily regulated industries began to embrace this consumerization."


I disagree. There is a heightened concern about data privacy, security and governance among many organizations. In research we conducted in 2013, we found that 49% of the organizations we surveyed blocked access to consumer file sync and share applications like Dropbox. There are alternatives.

Ian Bruce / Intralinks
Drew Conry-Murray
Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
2/6/2014 | 9:45:19 AM
Re: Dropbox alternatives
There's always SharePoint. It may not be as flexible for sharing documents outside the organization, but it does provide more control.
User Rank: Author
2/6/2014 | 9:14:36 AM
Dropbox alternatives
Hi Frank, can you clarify what you mean by internal equivalents to DropBox and Google drive? Do you mean a private cloud type arrangement? Many companies may want such a layered arrangement for files, but I wonder how we will keep it simple for users, who don't want to strugggle with what goes where. Thanks.
User Rank: Ninja
2/6/2014 | 12:40:13 AM
If a company has already chosen a cloud solution (even a small segment of its workload to run on the cloud) then mobile and social would be an easy shift because of the cloud's ability to deliver an adaptive scale. If cloud and open source is an area not to be touched and internal data is showing a strong trend towards mobile and social, then it will be expensive to develop and deploy anything in-house.
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