Djamel Djemaoun Hamidson, Eng., BSc., Ph.D. is an IT/Software Enterprise Architect at CBC/Radio-Canada since February 2009, with over twenty-five years of relevant software, technology, and management experience. During his career, he has participated in major projects in a variety of sectors (administration, banking, insurance, high technology, etc.). He is business-focused, user-concerns-conscious, and result-driven.
The challenges introduced by the flood of emerging technologies, which increasingly follow the pace dictated by the consumer market (a process known as Information Technology – IT – Consumerisation1), are prompting IT organisations to take a more proactive approach towards managing the diversity of devices and technology. This new technology is very often mobile and, as such, it promises empowerment to its users and demands a much higher rate of agility from IT within the context of its operations and management. The intersecting point between technology, the workforce, standards, policies, and support is where the road towards that agility begins.
The traditional “use only what I support” paradigm is creating a perception amongst these newly empowered consumers that IT doesn’t get it, whereas the modern reality is that IT does get it.
To help meet this challenge head-on, CBC/Radio-Canada’s IT Department along with other Technology group members of CBC/Radio-Canada’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB)2 have rolled out a number of initiatives to address this ‘new wave’ and give employees more flexibility to work from a variety of locations with a range of end point devices in a seamless, consistent, and secure manner.
Since 2010, we have been seeing a new technology revolution take place within the enterprise, mainly the consumerisation of IT movement, which comes with new challenges of its own. This revolution/movement challenges the traditional approaches towards computing solutions implemented ten to fifteen years ago within Information Technology.
Nowadays, the boundaries between work and personal technologies are blurring, and employees expect the technologies that they rely upon in their personal lives (devices, browsers, applications from different App Stores and Marketplaces, etc.) to be available to them in their business lives, and vice versa.
According to Unisys3-IDC4 research, the typical consumer/information worker uses four devices (desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablet). Any consumer has the ability to walk into a major consumer electronics retailer, purchase a wireless-N router for their home entertainment network for fifty dollars, and install it within twenty minutes. And they do it. They buy electronics for themselves, their kids, and their friends. More consumers than ever are purchasing computers that outperform those that they have at work, and, according to Forrester Research5, consumers are connecting them to the enterprise as fast as they can buy them, regardless of the policies in place.
After all, why are employees investing their own money in devices to use at work? Part of the answer is provided by the user experiences of these devices: people like their tablets; one might even go so far as to say that they really love them. Given that people like using these devices at home, it stands to reason that they would want to use them at work as well.
This movement seems to have pushed the employee into driving seat when it comes to devices:
- According to the Aberdeen Group6, 96% of businesses have a least one iPad in use; and
- SAP AG7 now has over three thousand corporate-owned iPhones and fourteen thousand iPads.
This initiative is not just coming from employees. At the very highest levels, executives are pushing to spur the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture along (50% of CIOs will purchase tablets for employees in 2012, according to Morgan Stanley8). Workers want to have more influence on the choice of technology that they use to get the job done. Industry experts have coined a term for this phenomenon, the “consumerisation” of IT. The key drivers behind this growing trend include:
- More choice: end-users have more access to smarter, cheaper devices, social networking sites, and Cloud services.
- Enabling technologies: wireless networks, Cloud services, virtualisation, powerful and intuitive devices, and the like are enabling, if not fuelling this trend.
- Work/life blur: work styles have evolved to a point where the lines between work and life have blurred. Users want technology that is consistent across the office/home divide.
- User expectations: ultimately, user expectations have increased; they expect technology at work to be as good as their technology at home.
Why should we care about consumerisation?
Gartner Inc.9 refers to consumerisation as “the single most influential trend affecting the technology sector in the coming decade.”
People are coming into work with much higher expectations of IT: they want better devices and applications, more options and freedom, as well as faster, uninterrupted service. These growing expectations are putting increasing pressure on IT to provide complete solutions for end-users while maintaining a secure, well-managed environment.
The fact of the matter is that the trend is accelerating. Workers are increasingly making their own decisions about mobile devices, and corporate IT rarely has any impact or influence on those decisions (Yankee Group10). Furthermore, 77% of workers who have a Facebook account use it during work hours (Nucleus Research11).
The world has shifted over the last ten years. A large percentage of non-technical staff have sufficient technical proficiency to use these new devices, and that proficiency is driven by a strong desire to use new technologies. On a larger scale, device proliferation is at a new peak. This bottom-up trend is unstoppable regardless of whether it has been endorsed in the corporate workplace, and it is driven by our knowledge workers, road warriors, and other employees who purchase their own technology to meet their entertainment needs.
If bring-your-own-wine restaurants are becoming more widespread and helping to create a better dining experience, then bring-your-own-technology/device may soon become the norm rather than the exception.
The consumerisation of IT movement is about mobility and choice, and while the combination of mobility and choice bears some risks that are typically addressed by adapting existing policies, guidelines, and operations, the opportunities that arise from that combination are simply too compelling to ignore.
There are potential productivity benefits for enterprises that embrace the consumerisation of IT movement. The ability for users to choose the consumer technologies that they know can make them more productive and possibly enable them to support one another (perhaps through the use of wikis or social networks) could be a positive development.
There is power in saying yes to consumerisation in a responsible way, and, with proper solutions in place, there is a great opportunity for IT to lead CBC/Radio-Canada through this transition.
Beyond a desire to embrace the consumerisation trend and BYOD, IT is realistically recognising the empowerment and agility inherent in the movement and doing a lot to manage these effectively in order to meet and satisfy the changing demands – and preferences – of the modern employee.
As a service provider, IT looks to grow by embracing new trends and creating the infrastructure necessary for new technologies to help to fulfill CBC/Radio-Canada’s mission and vision whilst creating business value and providing employees with the most productive IT working environment possible.
To respond to the growing trend of consumerisation, CBC/Radio-Canada is currently taking the following steps:
- Assessing & Understanding what users are doing and why;
- Managing the Essentials, including data security, device and application management, etc.;
- Updating Organisational Policies, not just IT’s, but policies pertaining to Legal, HR, etc.;
- Using Enabling Technologies, such as virtualisation & Cloud computing; and
- Piloting & Adopting consumerisation scenarios and using them to drive business results.
IT is paving the way for the arrival of personal technology in the office. Together with the other Technology groups that belong to CBC/Radio-Canada’s TSB2, IT is participating in various initiatives that will lead to a device-agnostic experience with the aim of achieving simplicity and ease of use in the daily activities of CBC/Radio-Canada staff. Some of these initiatives are:
Looking at a single approach for all devices, this is referred to as the End Point Strategy, and it includes:
- A Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model,
- Extension of the existing application virtualisation efforts already in place to give access to applications to any device, and
- Desktop virtualisation to give a more flexible laptop/desktop experience.
- Alignment with future trends such as the Cloud (applications, mail, etc.), Mobile Device Management (MDM), and social collaboration tools; and
- Unified Collaborative Communication (UCC12), which enhances human-to-human communication by joining all communication devices and channels into a single uniform interface.
Aiming to successfully implement this consumerisation, IT is leading the charge by encouraging:
- Standardisation through the implementation of a consistent set of security controls across different platforms while providing the same level of service;
- Common delivery method, which can be a great help in bringing content to multiple devices while avoiding the cost of supporting various services tailored to specific sets of devices (specific mobilised applications); and
- Intelligent access controls to secure the corporate data on devices by intelligently managing access rights and profiles based on certain additional access control factors, including device type, Network Access Control (NAC) profile, and geolocation, amongst others.
As an enabler of technology and innovation, as well as a creator and driver of business value, the goal of CBC/Radio-Canada’s IT group is to give employees a mobile network together with application access in a productive and secure environment.
BYOD – User Policy Considerations
As more employees are taking more liberties within their enterprise IT environments by using their personal mobile devices for access to corporate applications and data, CBC/Radio-Canada may establish its own policies and related considerations (Eligibility, Acceptable Use, Reimbursement, Security, End-User Support, and Policy Violations) to provide an environment suitable for these developments.
To be successful, a BYOD plan must at least cover the following aspects:
- Development of a BYOD contract: it is prudent to have the end-user sign a contract with the employer to this effect, because that is much more visible to the end-user than just accepting a click-through agreement upon entering the BYOD program.
- Eligibility: a determination of eligibility to be in the plan should be made by performing a risk assessment of the employee’s position within the organisation.
- Device selection: what kind of devices can be used for different tasks? A successful BYOD plan does not necessarily have to support any or all types of devices.
- Ownership, use, reimbursement, and notification if a device is lost.
- Access to corporate resources/applications from personal devices,
- Security and privacy obligations for personal and business data, and
- Tools to support BYOD.
Within CBC/Radio-Canada, only the joint effort of Information Technology (IT), the other TSB stakeholder groups, as well as the Human Resources (HR), Finance, and Legal teams — working closely with the executive team and business unit managers — can determine the exact corporate and/or individual policies that best fit CBC/Radio-Canada, meet its financial goals and objectives, and take into account security, legal, regulatory, or other requirements and considerations that may uniquely apply to CBC/Radio-Canada and its operations.
Rather than a rigid, one-size-fits-all policy for end-user support of consumer technology, the time has come to consider matching the profile of employees — their work style, workplace, technical capabilities, demographic data, and the like — to the kind of equipment and platforms that make the most sense for them and their teams.
Consumerisation and BYOD13 are part of the current three-year strategy, and through the mandate of the End Point Program (EPP), IT strives to rationalise and optimise device and technology usage, allowing workers to use any device, anywhere, anytime.
The author would like to provide his warmest and sincerest thanks to all those who have reviewed, challenged, and commented on this article.
A stable neologism that describes the trend for new IT to emerge within the consumer market, and then spread into business organisations, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumerization.
An American global Information Technology company based in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, USA. The company provides a portfolio of IT services, software, and technology, http://www.unisys.com/unisys/ri/topic/researchtopicdetail.jsp?id=700004.