I came across a recent interview with Bryan Jones, Dell's marketing director for public and large enterprise in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), that I thought contained some useful insights for SMBs. In the article published on V3.co.uk, Jones talks about the consumerization of IT and how businesses can deal with the trend. On one hand, it is clear that Jones advocates a change of mindset when it comes to dealing with the increasing number of consumer-centric IT devices in the office.
He was reported as saying:
The Consumerism of IT
Will the consumerization of IT be the final nail in the internal IT support desk?
If the IT guys are going to stick to their traditional answer of 'any device as long as it's one of these three approved ones', I think there will be some companies that find it very difficult to find and retain talent as they go forward.
Yet a complete opening up of how IT provisioning is being done could be a "big mistake." Jones cited examples of how a number of Dell customers were exploring the idea of giving employees a budget in which they are free to source their own IT, as opposed to the current approach of provisioning and supporting computer equipment centrally. Jones thinks that one danger of such a move would be that organizations end up with numerous endpoint devices with varying capabilities, which would ultimately result in inflated support costs.
Jones puts it this way:
Do you really want a company lawyer spending time on the helpline to their laptop vendor because their hard drive failed? That's probably one of the most expensive ways that you could use that employee's time.
The truth is that employees given free rein to acquire devices will often ignore key business requirements in favor of the outward attractiveness and, to a certain extent, budget. For SMBs, I've come up with some attributes that IT departments may want drafted into a guideline that must be adhered to:
The first criteria is pretty self-explanatory given the severe repercussions of data leakages, and how the use of FDE or self-encrypting drives has proven to be an effective method of protecting SMB data. Of the next two points: A broken laptop that needs to be sent in for two weeks is not acceptable in a business environment, and neither is a MacBook desirable if crucial systems can only be accessed from the Windows operating system.
Finally, it is also important that practical needs are met, too. CIOs or IT managers probably don't want an executive who spends the bulk of his or her time working on an Excel spreadsheet opting for a netbook, or a data-entry clerk opting for an Alienware laptop.
Have you grappled with the consumerization of IT in your SMB? Do feel free to add a comment below or drop me an email to share your experiences.