How to go with the consumerization trend
January 26, 2011 at 11:47 AM
Employees are clamoring to use their Apple iPhones for work while the company CEO prefers his Google Android smartphone but the BlackBerry has long been the corporate standard. What is an IT manager to do?
If you’re like Mitchell Ashley, vice president of IT for Cable Television Laboratories, you go with the flow. He shared his thoughts in a recent interview.
“The consumerization of IT is happening, which means more and more employees are showing up with their own smartphones, tablets, iPads and, in many cases, their own computers and wanting to use those in the work environment,” Ashley says. “The wall around the traditional IT stance of ‘our users will only use the devices and software we provide them’ is eroding – maybe it’s even eroded completely but IT hasn’t recognized it yet.”
At CableLabs, a Louisville, Colo.-based non-profit research-and-development consortium of cable operating companies, Ashley says he allows network access for each of the above plus Microsoft Windows Mobile phones. On the horizon is support for the iPad and “we’re starting to see some Samsung Galaxy tablets show up too,” he adds.
By virtue of the business, CableLabs has a highly technical user base – one that’s well aware of available tools and capabilities and how they could be used in productivity projects, Ashley says. “That’s what makes my job fun,” he adds.
“This isn’t just about me introducing new technologies but end users wanting to use iPads or Samsung Galaxy tablets running Android and me having to figure out the best way to embrace and support them as much as possible while still meeting corporate policy at the same time,” Ashley says.
To be sure, that is challenging, he says. While the devices can interconnect with the corporate e-mail platform – Microsoft Exchange – and do have fairly good security and management features, they’re missing enterprise file synchronization and other important capabilities, Ashley says. On his wish list for Microsoft or a third-party provider would be an enterprise-grade Dropbox- or MobileMe-like service that allows file sharing and synchronization across multiple devices.
What it comes down to, Ashley says, is morphing IT from the group that always says no to the folks that embrace what’s out there and then works with vendors to make sure they’re delivering the capabilities that will enable IT to do so while adhering to security, information retention and other such policies.
Beth Schultz , contributing editor, has more than two decades of experience as an IT writer and editor. You can find her work at a number of leading IT publications, where she writes on a variety of topics including cloud computing, mobility, network/systems management and security. Find her Linkedin profile here or e-mail her here.
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