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Managing use of consumer collaboration tools, mobile devices for work

Fearing the dangers of data security breaches, enterprises have long employed tight access restrictions on their IT and network infrastructures. But amid the growing popularity of consumer collaboration tools and mobile devices, many employees have called for more relaxed governance and increased integration of personal mobile computing devices into enterprise settings. Faced with such requests, some companies have begun to view the tried-and-true "lock it down" approach as outmoded -- and perhaps even bad for business.

In this video, SearchUnifiedCommunications.com's Rivka Little speaks with Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst of Forrester Research, about how enterprises manage their employees' use of consumer collaboration tools and mobile computing devices for business. Schadler discusses the potential value of employing technology like video for training purposes or applications like Twitter for customer communications, and addresses some key questions that network operators should ask upfront when considering a more open network strategy.

Schadler then talks about maintaining security when opening corporate practices to consumer collaboration tools and mobile computing devices, which he calls "the biggest challenge that any company faces in the consumerization of IT." He also touches on a tiered model for management of mobile devices that some enterprises are using to give employees greater freedom to integrate personal smartphones, tablets and other mobile computing devices into their daily job responsibilities.

About the speaker: Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst of Forrester Research, is the co-author of "Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business" (Harvard Business Review Press, September 2010). In the book, Schadler and co-author Josh Bernoff argue that companies can win customer trust and business by empowering employees to directly engage with and solve the problems of empowered customers using social, mobile, video and cloud Internet services.

Read the full transcript from this video below:  

Managing use of consumer collaboration tools, mobile devices for work

Rivka Little: Hello. I am Rivka Little, with Search Unified Communications, and I am here with Ted Schadler, Principle Analyst at Forrester Research, and author of the new book Empowered. Thank you for joining us.

Ted Schadler:  It is my pleasure.

Rivka Little:    Employees have become accustomed to using consumer collaboration tools in the enterprise, such as Twitter and Facebook. Which tools should the enterprise allow consumers to use, and how does this affect the network?

Ted Schadler:  Those are great questions. What is happening is that people learn to do stuff at home, and they actually see a business purpose to it. Companies have not had a way to harness that innovation, that energy, but increasingly with the rise of Facebook, Twitter, iPhones and Skype for video communications,  there are just so many tools that we have available at home that the company does not necessarily provide. In fact, our data at Forrester says 51% of employees feel they have better technology at home than they have at work. It is so interesting that we are in this place, and not only that, it is accelerating. The question for IT becomes, ‘How we take advantage of that? How do we do it in a way that is safe and we can plan for?’

There are probably three things that are going on right now that are most interesting. We talk a lot about this in our book, Empowered. We talk about case studies and how different companies are dealing with them. I will use the example of video, just shortly. Video for sales training is a very popular and valuable use of video. The question becomes then, ‘How do you get the best video?’ You can use a studio and create it, but it turns out that with flip cameras, you can actually have employees and salespeople make their own videos and post them up to the portal. That is a great example of something used at home that came into the workplace, and that is what Black and Decker is doing.

Another example would be Twitter. People are using Twitter for customer communications and notifications. Here, it is not so much that IT wants to have people use Twitter, but they can provide an alternative to Twitter. Certain enterprise-ready alternatives, like Yammer, Social Texts Signals, or Lotus Connections to do that. Then, the issues around planning, which of course includes the network, are very much about, ‘What is the application? What additional load are we expecting? Are we having to tunnel through the firewall in new ways? Do we have enough capacity to handle the additional load?’ Very often the network professional is the last to know, and they should not be, they need to be really involved up front, to be aware of what is happening, since a lot of it's happening even without IT being in control of it.

Rivka Little:    How do you handle security strategy around allowing these kinds of mobile devices and other applications into the enterprise?

Ted Schadler:  Security is the biggest challenge that any company faces in the consumerization of IT. The basic issue is that we got a very locked down IT infrastructure historically and for good reasons. In some cases it is a little more locked down than it probably needs to be. I will give you an example of a RIM Blackberry; it provides 450 policies to lock down a Blackberry device. That has made it hard for people to actually get what they want out of a Blackberry device because it is locked down so tight. Along comes iPhone, and people are carrying their iPhone and their Blackberry, because they can actually get the apps they want on the iPhone that they cannot get them on the Blackberry. To handle the security, you have to do two things. You have to, number one, really understand what the business impact of the security is. It becomes a business risk not a technology risk and that is very important here. The second thing is you have to loosen up a little bit. You have to allow a little more experimentation, and the way you do that is if you are in IT, you sit down with legal, HR, and business management and say, ‘Here are the risks. Here is what we can do to mitigate the risk, but we need for you to help us make the smart decision about the business benefit of allowing this new device for this new application.’

Again, in our book, Empowered, we have an entire chapter we call ‘Keeping Heroes Safe.’ Heroes are highly empowered and resourceful operatives. They are employees who are solving problems on their own. We have an entire chapter on how to do it. We have put case studies from Kodak and from Intel, for example, on how to really treat technology risk as a business risk.

Rivka Little:    I know that there are some companies that just limit the mobile devices that you can bring in, personal mobile devices, then there are those that purposely go out and integrate the internally issued ones with these external ones. How do you, is there a way to address this policy-wise?

Ted Schadler:  There is. It is a very interesting model that is finally now starting to take shape because before, it was yes or no. I've got my personal devices, which I cannot use for work, and I've got my corporate devices that I can use for work. That does not survive when we have Android, iPad, iPhone 4.0 and Windows phone. We have all of these new devices coming in because employees just are going to do it anyway.

What is starting to emerge is a tiered strategy. Tier one is a managed device, corporate provisioned, applications beyond email, real business apps, CRM, field service, or proprietary applications. That is tier one. Tier two typically includes iPhone today and Android 2.2, the newer version of Android. Those are lightly managed. For example, they would be managed with a tool like Mobile Iron or Good Technology, and not every application can just go on it. I get email and calendar and maybe web. Tier three is the unmanaged device layer. That is like, ‘Whatever. You bring it in, you pay for it, you use it, but we are not going to put an application on it. Instead, we will let you get to web-based email, and that is it.’

By having a tiering model, you can address the security issues, and you can address the personal liablity issues in some cases. This is not for every enterprise today, but for many, many companies, including the financial services sector. We are starting to see this is as the new model for allowing people to use the device of their choice.

Rivka Little:    Thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

Ted Schadler:  It was my pleasure.

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