Of all the current trends in IT at the moment, the use of consumer devices for work activities could turn out to be the most problematic. This is because, although the technology involved in making this happen is not hard to set up, the whole issue is loaded with emotional and cultural pitfalls. It's the softer side of consumerising your IT that is going to require good management skills.
Earlier this week, I spoke to BAT CIO Phil Colman about his strategy for coping with user demands for sophisticated mobile handsets. He voiced a view that I think is probably a common one, that it does not make sense for a business to try to keep up with the advances in consumer devices.
Mobile devices have almost replaced the company car as a corporate status symbol. Every executive from the boardroom down wants the bragging rights that come with slapping the latest tablet PC or smartphone on the table at the monthly meeting. A mobility IT strategy shouldn't be governed by these demands, but the pressure to oblige management peers is strong.
The only practical solution is to adopt a Bring Your Own Device model into the business. This is a trend that is going to catch on.
A recent report shows how worried IT leaders are about letting employees use their own handsets for work, with 15 per cent implementing blanket bans. However the same report found that half the respondents thought the blurring between work and personal mobile use was inevitable.
As Phil points out though, the real problem is negotiating data regulations around data security, internal policies on employee conduct over digital channels and employees needs to feel free to do as they wish outside working hours.
CIOs need to focus on these issues just as much as delivery of service levels and business benefits and this will require them to work closely with line managers and HR, as well as compliance and legal directors. Only the CIO is in the position to look at this issue from a holistic viewpoint rather than the domain-focused approach these other managers will take.
I hope to speak with Phil again soon and publish a guide on how to work with HR on this issue based on his lessons, but in the meantime, do let me know your thoughts and experiences. Feel free to publish a comment below.