By Karl Campbell: Regional Vice President of Riverbed Technology for the UK and South Africa
This month marks the 5th anniversary of the launch of the iPad. This launch introduced the dawn of BYOD and the true consumerisation of IT – the IT department has never been the same since. Pre-iPad, company-issued devices were the norm, selected not for usability or design, but purely based on what was deemed to be most secure and most able to integrate best with corporate IT. The availability of a ‘larger-than-smartphone’, portable device that gave the C-suite access to a wealth of apps to improve business productivity became almost a status symbol in the boardroom overnight. The iPad’s success spurred on other device manufacturers to create consumer IT fit for business and the resulting booming smartphone and tablet market transformed the IT culture of organisations forever. We now have a culture of technologically empowered employees self-selecting the applications they believe are best to get the job done, and driving the adoption of SaaS (software as a service) apps.
But while the iPad and its successors from other device manufacturers brought many positives to end-users, they also opened up a new wave of issues for the IT department. With employees finding and downloading their own apps to use in business, rather than being given company-approved apps, CIOs had to contend with a raft of new visibility, control and network application issues. It is therefore amazing to look back and see just how far business IT has come since 2010. Terms such as the hybrid enterprise, BYOD and shadow IT were relatively unknown phrases – now they are at the centre of IT strategy.
The issues caused by the consumerisation of IT and the resulting BYOD (bring your own device) and BYOA (bring your own application) culture are never going to go away. It can be difficult to keep track of what we call data and application sprawl – where this new raft of data and information is located – not to mention standardise processes for information sharing.
As we move forward into the next five years, the IT department needs to continue to innovate in how it avoids bandwidth issues and security/compliance threats. CIOs will need to identify where employees are increasingly adopting apps on their personal devices and build more collaborative relationships with the application providers (approved and unapproved). By standardising new technology based on what employees are using, the IT department can gain more control over the information that is being shared by optimising the network to deliver it. This also improves overall visibility in terms of where data is sitting on a network.
Since the adoption of the iPad as a business tool, other traditionally consumer focused vendors have been trying to replicate its success and break into the business productivity market. Facebook and Google are creating platforms that augment email, or replace it all together and it seems that within the next five years it is entirely plausible that new advances in these areas will mean there will be even more devices and vendors making a play in the business IT market. CIOs need to keep track of what their employees are adopting and work with these vendors now to implement the services and gain a competitive advantage.