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HP Advises CIOs To Relax About Consumerisation

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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IT can take the Bring your Own Device (BYOD) trend in its stride, according to research from HP

The threat of consumerisation of enterprise technology (sometimes called the “iPad effect”) is overrated, according to a study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by HP.

Many chief information officers (CIOs) are concerned that rapid advances in consumer technology will create high expectations for IT in the workplace, placing impossible demands on IT staff, or causing massive security risks as users attempt to bypass corporate IT altogether. In fact, consumerisation is a distraction for CIOs, rather than an actual threat, according to the study, entitled “Great expectations or misplaced hopes: perceptions of business technology in the 21st century” which involved over 500 executives from the EMEA countries.

Mind the generation gap

The perceived problems include a “generation gap” between senior staff and younger employees; the difficulty of managing an increasibng turnover of innovations,; the growing expertise of end-users, which may outpace the IT department, and the dreaded “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend, which increases management and security hassles.

According to the survey, however, most executives believe the IT department is in good shape. Eight-four percent of executives said that technology investments in their firm aimed at delivering greater efficiency have succeeded as planned. Nearly eight in ten say the same about technology projects aimed at reducing cost.

The survey underlined the value of IT: at high-achieving firms with recent annual profit growth of 20 percent or more, one in four technology projects exceeded expectations, compared with less than five percent at firms experiencing flat or negative growth. Firms where senior management is strong on technology are ten times more likely to be high-performers in profit growth terms than those where technology knowledge at the top is weak.

“We are looking at a major shift in the workplace environment. Technology allows us to communicate more easily, even on the move. Today, people are mixing their work and personal lives, because they have to. The expectations are higher. Our job is to make it easy, to create effective, collaborative workforce that responds to changes quickly,” commented Gurprit Singh, CTO Technology Services for HP UK & Ireland.

Don’t Bring Your Own

As for BYOD, it is worth remembering that instead of going down, the cost of personal computing is actually increasing. Mark Bramwell, CIO for the Wellcome Trust, pointed out that “five years ago, all you needed in the office was a desktop computer. Now we have laptops, smartphones and tablets, and if the company pays for these, we need to be sure it brings benefits. We need to balance productivity gains against the cost of computing.”

Some organisations believe that BYOD increases productivity and motivation, and even provide an allowance to Buy Your Own Device. However overall, it turns out BYOD is not that exciting. Research shows that most people are happy to use any device given to them.

Another issue concerning BYOD is security. And security costs money. For example, Wellcome Trust employs both encrypted passwords and software, which allows to wipe the data from the device if it is lost or stolen. According to Bramwell, “it’s not particularly costly, but because all of a company’s data can fit on a single memory card, you can’t do BYOD without thinking about security.” Gurprit Singh agrees, saying that policies are very important if employees are allowed to work on any devices other than those provided by the company.

A general conclusion drawn from the study and accompanying press conference is this: consumerisation provides more benefit than risk. And the recipe for success? Cut costs with the help of technology. The saved money can then be invested into innovation, which will allow you to get ahead of the pack.