Can consumerisation be good for business?
Consumerisation is nothing new. When personal computers first arrived (together with office and database software from companies like Lotus, WordPerfect and Microsoft) they enabled people with a bit of money to equip their home offices in much the same way as their workplaces. The key phrase here is, "with a bit of money," as the earliest adopters of home technology were frequently the more senior corporate staff. With a simple floppy disk drive providing the connection between home and work, executives were quickly impressing each other with their database prowess or skill in creating presentations. Roll forward a few decades and technology has become a lot more accessible and affordable.
These days we use the term 'consumerisation' to talk about smartphones and 'apps', use of online collaboration and storage, and indeed, having computers and printers at home that are often more powerful or functional than corporate-supplied kit. The point is that the consumerisation trend now affects every layer of the organisation. While this may cause IT departments to tear their hair out, policies to stamp out use of personal equipment and online services are notoriously difficult to implement - which isn't that surprising if the chief exec is as likely to bring in his iPad (and expect it to work) as an office clerk.
At Symantec our main priority is enabling the benefits of technology whilst mitigating the risks - and (while it can be difficult to quantify) organisations can clearly gain a great deal from allowing management and staff to use their own tools for the job. The challenge, from a confidentiality, integrity, availability and governance perspective, is to ensure that corporate information is protected, wherever it happens to be.
Which is why, over the past weeks, we have enhanced out portfolio with the acquisition of two companies - Odyssey Software and Nukona; enhancing our portfolio in Mobile Device and Application Management, and covers a variety of protections, from data encryption, leakage protection, remote wipe, application wrapping, to user authentication and policy-based management. All the while keeping a low profile on user devices so as not to disrupt the user experience.
Not only does this keep the user experience clean (and simplify IT operations and support down the line), but by focusing on protecting corporate information, it becomes possible to be quite explicit about acceptable use policy. Simply put, if you want to access corporate information on your own device, you will have to play by the rules - or face the consequences. Something not even the most senior of corporate executives could complain about.