Feature

CES 2011: Embrace IT consumerisation

Industry gurus are warning that the old ways of doing things cannot continue. The idea of travelling to a place of work, working at least an eight-hour shift using tools that work provides dates back to the industrial age. Productivity was a measure of the number of components that came off the production line in a day.

Bill Jensen, co-author of Hacking Work, a book which looks at how individuals can overcome corporate shackles, believes people are fighting back. "The corporation still runs on principles from the industrial revolution. The corporation owns the work tools and processes to get the work done. But in the knowledge and service economy, work is much more dependent on individuals, but we have not changed the processes."

He says that companies need to send work and processes to the collaborative, and need to operate as if they have a collaborative of 1,000 individuals. "It has not changed because institutions can still make money this way, and it is too risky to change."

But change is happening - individuals are fine to go along with some processes, but they will hack around others, and not tell the company what they are doing, warns Jensen. "We are heading in the path where people carry a portfolio of tools to which ever work they go to."

The mainframe and the minicomputer mirrored the traditional approach to work, since they were expensive machines. Access was highly controlled. The PC in 1982, was the first breakthrough in commoditised IT. Finally, people no longer needed a DP manager to produce reports. They had Viscalc. When the Mac came along in 1984, it brought with it affordable desktop publishing, revolutionising the magazine business.

PCs became uncontrollable because IT had no easy way of managing them. In the late 1990s Gartner estimated that desktop PCs cost a business £5,000 per year each. Time to regain control of the desktop so IT deployed the managed desktop - a locked-down environment, which is managed much like how the business used to manage the mainframe. Modern enterprise desktops provide staff with a suite of corporate applications with zero flexibility to manoeuvre.

User workload

According to Jensen, "Individuals are being screwed by IT. We have to have secure desktops, but IT is doing zero analysis on how much work is being offloaded onto individuals. IT does not realise it is increasing the workload of everyone by as much as four hours a day, but IT is getting its work done."

Now just like how Visicalc allowed users to free themselves from the constraints of centralised IT, the consumerisation of IT is giving staff the ability to do things far more quickly and produce superior results compared with traditional IT approaches. IT must deal with an increasingly tech-savvy user-base.

The old systems were a means for organisations to control how staff work. But in the new world, "It's harder to lock things down and users are becoming increasingly savvy. Individuals are more important and companies must start supporting them," says Josh Klein, who co-wrote Hacking Work with Jensen.

"All the innovative companies have totally bizarre practices in place - Google's 20% led to small products like Gmail. The thing is most companies are not able to take the risks. And it is hard to break down existing structures."

Everyone's an expert

Darko Hrelic, CIO at Gartner, is in the unenviable position of having more than 2,000 CIOs within Gartner who know how to do his job better than he does. He says, "I have no chance of pulling the wool over their eyes. These are people who understand IT."

People also have better IT at home than they do at work. Westminster council provides staff with remote access to their PCs using Citrix Access Gateway. This virtual PC environment works a bit like GotoMyPC in the consumer space, enabling IT to package up applications securely via two-factor authentication.

David Wilde, CIO at the city council, says the council allows people to access Facebook and use Skype. "We opened up access 18 months ago. If people spend too much time [on these sites] it is a management issue, not IT."

Facebook and Twitter is driving the user interface on corporate applications.

In the business to consumer space, companies need to respond to consumer trends. So it is no surprise that Trainlines has rolled out an iPhone app, driven by business managers asking IT for the application. Within two weeks of going live, the transactional version of the Trainline.com iPhone app is contributing 1% of the company's business.

"It already has one million users," says David Jack, CIO of Trainline.com. "The iPhone app has stickiness."

People download the app onto their phone, use it and receive automatic updates. On the web it is easy for people to choose a different service, but the app becomes the first point of call for anyone looking for train times.

In this context IT is an enabler for business development. The consumerisation of IT has given the business an opportunity - a new channel to market. "My business people are very tech savvy. They know that it is possible to build an application. They want to be shown how it can be done."

The waterfall method of software development cannot keep pace with this. By the time a formal spec is ready, Apple may well have released a new iPhone, or there is a new hot gadget consumers are lusting over. So Trainline adopts an agile-like approach to software development.

"It's an absolute requirement to be agile because we do not know what the end product will be and we have to start small."


Case study: RaboBank empowers employees

RaboBank in the Netherlands is changing the way people work and IT is at the heart of this transformation. At the Gartner Symposium in November Pieter Kettering, a programme manager at the bank gave a presentation to CIOs, which illustrates how IT can drive major cultural changes in business.

The crux of the change is employee empowerment. The programme is designed to allow staff to work flexibly, in a bid to improve customer service. At RaboBank flexible working is more than just about giving people a laptop and allowing them to telework. It's a organisational shift, with a new head office in Utrecht planned with activity-based workspaces and meeting areas, to encourage collaboration and offer staff the freedom to work in the way they consider most effective.

RaboBank has benefited in a number of ways:

  1. Reduced costs by saving on workstations
  2. Fewer people
  3. Lower ICT costs
  4. Less absenteeism
  5. Reduced employee turnover

It is also seeing improvements in:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Performance
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Collaboration
  • Use of available knowledge
  • Attractive employer image
  • Sustainable business

The culture at RaboBank is very much focused on web 2.0. There is nothing special about the technology; nothing out of the ordinary. It is merely using software like Citrix, Microsoft Sharepoint and Onenote, laptops and tablet device to provide people flexibility at work. Given that it is a bank, and security is obviously a prime concern, RaboBank has actually given its staff home access to the banking systems.

Some applications must run in the head office like the one for transferring money between banks - just in case someone decides to put a gun to your head, say Kettering - but in the main, people are offered flexible working and are rated on output and results. It requires a different approach to management. "Our management cannot be focused on control but on getting employees to support the customer better," he says.


Apple in the enterprise

Gartner's top predictions for IT organisations and users, 2011 and beyond

By Leslie Fiering and Ken Dulaney

A recent survey of Gartner CIO clients showed that 85% have been getting requests for Apple iPhones, iPods or iPads, and that almost 75% have found that end-users are connecting those devices to the enterprise network with or without permission.

Extending the capability of media tablets will lead to the growing adoption of utilities that enable the use of applications running on another computer, server or in the cloud. Secure access clients, in particular, will run with enterprise-level security while establishing no footprint (leaving no enterprise code or data) on the client device.

Today, Citrix Receiver for iPad connects to Xenapps and Xendesktop, while Wyse Pocketcloud can connect to a variety of platforms including VMware View and Xendesktop. Expect a growing number of proprietary and generic secure access clients to emerge and for the underlying protocols to become embedded in software. These applications will facilitate supporting media tablets and integrating them with enterprise applications.

In addition enterprises will need to develop new policies and IT skill sets to support media tablets.

As media tablets are used for enterprise-developed applications, a broader range of platform coverage will be required from mobile device management applications to ensure security, provisioning and manageability. Changes will also be required in application development focus: enterprises will need to design for mobile first, and design to work on multiple screen sizes with multiple resolutions, with greater focus on user interface and usability issues.


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This was first published in January 2011

 

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