The technical impact of consumerisation of IT can be disruptive to CIOs, but possibly a less well considered aspect of the trend is the impact to management processes.
Consumerisation challenges the traditional balance of power where the deployment of IT is concerned. It also necessarily alters the way employees think about the business technology they use and the responsibility they have for it.
In a recent webcast, Simon Callow, head of IT at Aston Martin Lagonda and Owen Powell IT Director at the NHS at inner Northwest London PCT was joined by Steve Shakespeare EU software director at Intel to discuss the repercussions of Employees using consumer devices for work purposes.
All three panellist agreed that consumersation has reversed the direction through which IT innovation in the corporate arena flows. Employee expectations over the usabilty of the technology they use have risen sharply and the IT department is finding itself having to react to user demands where before they used to dictate strategy.
Command and control ends
Powell explained that the NHS is traditionally a command and control environment, but IT departments in the UK healthcare industry have had to adapt to senior staff wanting to use consumer devices.
He says: “What we're seeing is that particularly senior people are leading this kind of innovation. They're the ones that are bringing the iPads and the laptops in, so it's very difficult to impose command and control from below.”
Consumerisation gives the IT department less elbow-room to dictate to users what technology they will have at their disposal, but as Callow points out, the benefits to the business in terms of working processes that the trend brings are very compelling too.
He focuses on the mobility that consumerisation brings as an illustration of how the IT department can contribute to a more fluid, more productive way of working.
His C-level peers at Aston Martin Lagonda have challenged him to increase productivity and consumerisation allows staff to operate wherever they are, in an always-on way.
Employees across the board are becoming much more aware of the importance in maintaining a balance between their working and personal lives and accept that for this to happen, work and personal life are no longer discrete segments of the day, but that they may alternate between the two throughout the day.
This may mean being out of work in the day, and working on corporate activities at home during the evening, if necessary. Studies have found that productivity rises if employees adopt this way of working.
Making use of consumer technology can enable workforces to operate in this way, without the cost of issuing everyone with corporate mobile devices.
He says: “What the businesses challenging me for is the elimination of non-productive hours and I think mobility gives us that opportunity, and that goes back to the always-on piece.”
The key for Callow is getting the most out of every employee, which mirrors the demands of the car-making industry, always looking for improvements in production efficiencies.
The health sector is also a highly mobile workplace and staff are expected to spend a minimal amount of their day stuck at desk. Powell recognises that the more quickly a mobile strategy is deployed, the faster the benefits can be realised.
If staff are using devices they are already familiar with, this will only speed up that process.
A large amount of staff in healthcare have very limited experience of corporate computing, although they do use consumer devices with ease.
If their work processes need to be computerised, a natural option would be to deploy the relevant applications on their own devices, rather than spend time and money training them in a corporate system.
“Back in the day you'd have users who would see corporate IT as bit of a chore. It’s not necessarily something they wanted to do,” Powell says.
The CIO Big Conversation
Consumerisation: How to manage the new era of mobility
Date: Thursday 25th October 2012
Location: The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, London
To register for your place, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Big Conversation is a business technology leadership forum that brings IT leaders together to listen, share & shape opinions on the key issues the CIO community faces. The evening will include a keynote from a top CIO 100 speaker sharing his experiences on this topic, as well as the opportunity to share your views with fellow CIOs over networking drinks and canapés.