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Consumerization is still going strong in the IT field. Mid-sized businesses and enterprises are finding themselves at the mercy of the whims of the consumer. Like it or hate it, you'll probably have to learn to live with it. That means it's good to at least have an idea of what's coming down the pipe next. Here's our view on the top five emerging trends and how they might touch your organization in 2013 and beyond.
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Company security and personal autonomy are at loggerheads. Even the most finely-crafted policies haven't yet found a middle ground that works for everyone.
Jason Tee, enterprise software architect
This trend hasn't quite become mainstream, but a recent Gartner survey says that it will reach 50% penetration by 2017. Half of all companies may require workers to purchase their own device (and sign one of those onerous contracts for service) as a condition of employment. This might give corporations more control over the type of device that employees buy – but only if they are willing to reimburse at least a portion of the purchase price. In either case, IT will have to continue learning to provide support for more and more device types.
Besides the obvious issues involved with forcing new employees to shell out big bucks for a smartphone or tablet, the question of privacy is at the forefront of everyone's mind. If workers have no choice but to purchase a device and grant their employer at least partial access and control, this may tend to blur the line between personal and professional use even more. That brings us to the next trend which offers a glimmer of hope for a sensible and simple solution.
Dual persona technology
When employees bring their own smartphone to work and use it for company business, it's very hard to decide how much say each party should have over the device and its contents. Company security and personal privacy/autonomy are at loggerheads. The competing interests of consumers and IT over who controls the mobile device environment once seemed like a conflict that could never be resolved. Certainly, even the most finely-crafted policies haven't yet found middle ground that works for everyone. So why not try a technical solution?
VMware is teaming with Verizon Enterprise Solutions to be one of the first providers of dual persona technology for Android and iOS smartphones. The VMware Horizon platform provides a virtual workspace on the smartphone without requiring IT to manage the entire device. From the perspective of the end user, the only thing that's different is that they touch a button to switch to their corporate persona to use the device for work purposes. On the enterprise side, IT can provision, maintain, standardize, monitor and secure all company apps and data on the phone at all times.
BYOT takes off
Do you think Bring Your Own Tablet (BYOT) is the same as traditional BYOD? Think again. This new trend is different in a couple of ways. First, the tablet is still priced as something of a luxury. This means the employees who are most likely to have a tablet at this time fall into distinct categories:
- Executives/management who can easily absorb the cost
- Technical professionals who simply must have the latest gadgets
- Mobile workers who rely heavily on portable technology for most of their work
These are the same groups who may be most resistant to being told what to do with their tablet or how to do it. Second, the actual range of tasks that a worker can perform on a tablet is fairly broad compared to a smartphone. The larger screen size alone makes it more user-friendly. This means employees may be accessing even more company apps remotely than ever before. Your organization would do well to revisit your BYOD policy in light of these facts.
Hot desking is a hot topic
One interesting consumerization trend links IT with facility management. SaaS and cloud computing are addressing the desire of users to access more business applications remotely. As a result, organizations are finding that they don't need to have workers come in to the office as much. As employers implement flexible work schedules, they are replacing assigned workstations with a hoteling structure that provides workspace on a first come, first serve basis. This reduces expenditures on square footage of office space, office furnishings, and utilities. The more IT can do to support this trend, the greater the cost savings for the organization.
IT takes to the streets
What does it look like when IT becomes the consumer? Individual developers and IT staff are definitely on board with the tablet trend – and they are using these devices for both work and play like all other consumers. This has interesting implications for business software development. In a recent interview with Tyler Jewell from Codenvy, we discovered that the most frequently requested capability for his firm's cloud-based development platform is compatibility with mobile devices. There's certainly not enough memory or computing power on a smartphone or tablet to perform more than the most basic development tasks, so the consumerization of the cloud development environment is already underway to meet demand. If your developers may start coding remotely, you'll want to make sure there are additional policies and protocols in place to cover this scenario.