A consumer enterprise

As end-users become increasingly savvy, more consumer technology will find its way into enterprises and force IT departments to think differently about endpoints.

  • E-Mail
By  Sathya Ashok Published  April 20, 2008

As end-users become increasingly savvy, more consumer technology will find its way into enterprises and force IT departments to think differently about endpoints.

NME met Mark Bregman, CTO of Symantec to discuss how the modern-day CIO can prepare himself for the shift.

What does consumerisation of enterprises mean for companies and CIOs?

The CIO has been given the responsibility of protecting and managing the company’s assets. And now you have an employee who is saying I am going to do it my way. Well, how can the CIO allow that?

The idea of consumerisation in the enterprise is something that we have been thinking about for sometime. Symantec has both a big consumer business and a big enterprise business. In the past we always thought of them separately.

But one of the things that we have noticed is that increasingly the things that we do and the expectations that we have as consumers are starting to be brought back into the workplace. When I started in the business world, in my first job, they told me here's how to use the computer, here's how to use the IT system - it was all defined and decided by IT.

Today when you hire a new employee they already have an expectation, they have used computers and had them around since they were born. They come into the workplace and they already have a point of view on how to use technology. That is the fundamental underpinning of enterprise consumerisation.

Technology itself has triggered this. Technology has changed the way we think about work. With increasing mobility, the boundary between work and personal life is very blurred. That is the origin of this whole trend.

Now this leads to some very interesting challenges for the CIO. The CIO has been given the responsibility of protecting and managing the company's assets. And now you have an employee who is saying I am going to do it my way. Well, how can the CIO allow that? The traditional solution is that the CIO locks down the systems. You know, here is your company laptop, you can only use it for company reasons because I have to protect the information.

Well, how many employees have a company laptop or mobile phone that actually has no personal information on it? Zero - let's be honest. No one does it. This is not realistic any more. So the challenge from a technology point of view, something that we worry about in our company, and a challenge for the CIO is can we use technology to make this happen in a way that allows the employee to do things but allows the company to control it as well?

Let me give you a concrete example. Say, I have a policy that this is the company laptop and you can only use it for company activity. Instead what if I had a policy that said use whatever laptop you want? Now as the CIO I need technology that allows me to protect the company from things that you have on your laptop, because you might not be careful.

If I am going to back-up data from the laptop, I don't want to back-up your personal information because that would be a privacy problem. So I need that technology. And those are starting to be feasible. They weren't a few years ago but with virtualisation at the end-point, data classification and data protection, you can start to see examples of the leading companies who are experimenting with this.

That is part of what is happening with consumerisation in the enterprise. And it is fundamentally changing the way the IT department thinks about the endpoint.

Is this restricted to mobility or is it relevant across other solutions?

Absolutely it is. Take applications. You are familiar with the term mashups. They started with consumers who said I could take some information from this real estate company and Google Maps and I can combine them so that I can see all the houses for sale. That's a great app.

What is happening now inside a company you get somebody who has that kind of web 2.0 thinking and they say I don't want to go to the IT department to have them build me a new report - I want to do it myself. I am going to take some data from the sales and marketing department and I am going to do a mashup myself.

That is not a mobility issue, it is the way apps are built. As soon as you start to do that the IT department is very nervous, they are losing control, they can't control it anymore, because it is non-IT personnel who are building it. That is going to change the way they think about it.

How do you see the geographic spread of this trend?

I see them in a lot of places. It is driven by the age demographics. In a mature company that is not hiring a lot of people every year because they are not growing it is not going to happen as quickly since they have an older population of people who are used to the old model.

In a company that is growing very quickly, they are hiring lots of new graduates, it is happening very quickly. And that is independent of the geography.

There is also the issue of recruiting and retaining good employees. If someone comes into my company and they don't like the environment, they don't think they can get the job done because the tools aren't provided, then they are going to leave. So if I want to recruit people and I want to retain the best, then I have to change. And that is the thing that is driving it more than region by region.

I am less familiar with the Middle East since this is my first visit to Dubai but I think we see the same thing happening here. As you hire new people and many of these economies are growing very quickly the companies are growing quickly, they are bringing in a lot of people and a lot of them who are coming in are younger and they are coming with a set of expectations.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code