The Changing Role of IT: 5 Things Every CIO Must Know (and Respond To)

Changing Role of IT

In the world of IT, ten years feels like a few lifetimes.

Just think …

A decade ago, you needed a huge capital investment and a team of professionals to buy, install and manage software. Today, low-cost SaaS and high-bandwidth Internet allow you to receive most business technologies through the cloud.

Ten years ago, employees used corporate-issued devices for work. However, with consumer technology evolving faster than business technology, employees now want to use their favourite consumer devices at work. In fact, 50% of workers reported that their employer’s technology tools are critical in their decisions whether or not to work for a company.

Plus, remember all those kids who were entering high school or university ten years ago? They’re now becoming managers in Fortune 500 companies and will soon run the joints! And these millennials don’t remember what it was like before technology allowed them to access anything at any time from any device.

As these forces drive the IT revolution, here are five things you must do as a senior IT leader to stay relevant.

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Addressing Bring Your Own Technology

addressingbyod

How to implement a Bring Your Own Technology strategy is still one of the most rampant conversations we have everyday with businesses. There is no single technology that is going to make the implementation successful. The goal of this guide is to outline the variables that need to be addressed so that you can find an approach that will best fit your organization.

There are a few reasons organizations choose to have users bring their own technology.  The first step in figuring out what to do about BYO is to figure out why you are doing it. What’s interesting is that as time goes I’m finding that people aren’t really sure if they are trying to enable BYO or prevent it. Either way this guide will have you covered. [Read more…]

Supporting BYOD: Is It Time for Your Help Desk to Draw the Line?

Supporting BYOD: Is It Time for Your Help Desk to Draw the Line?

One of the promises of BYOD is that it reduces help desk tickets, which allows IT to spend less time fixing problems and more time driving business value.

However, as more employees bring their own devices to work, IT departments are seeing an increase in tickets. These tickets – which cover everything from device compatibility to security – increase the burden on already overworked support teams.

Does this mean it’s time for your help desk to draw the line when it comes to supporting BYOD?

[Read more…]

20 highlights from the 2013 Softchoice CIO Summit

2013 Softchoice CIO Summit

The consumerization of IT is causing huge headaches for organizations. Employees now dictate the devices, apps and services they want to use, and IT departments are being forced to oblige.

The 2013 Softchoice CIO Summit – part of the Softchoice Innovation Forum brought together technology leaders from Softchoice clients and many of Silicon Valley’s trendsetting organizations. And using three business “Megatrends” Softchoice has identified, the group set out to expand their collective understanding of what BYOD, Collaboration and Cloud really means for the modern enterprise.

Here are the core findings. You can download a longer PDF version of this article here, or at the end of the post. It includes more details into the various Megatrend breakout sessions, along with the outcomes from the sessions.

20 highlights from the 2013 Softchoice CIO Summit:

  1. Social media – and its assoicated behaviors – have set the standard of communications and collaboration within business as well
  2. The consumerization of IT brought about by Apple’s iPhone and iPad has created fundamental changes for how businesses view consumer technology in the workplace, and even onboarding employees
  3. SaaS sprawl is causing massive headaches for businesses all over, and is in fact responsible for changing the role of IT within organizations
  4. Mobile technologies mean our expectations of each other from a work and availability perspective has increased significantly – and IT departments are feeling this burden too
  5. The consensus was that most organizations are on the path to BYOD in some way, shape, or form
  6. It was agreed that much of the change management required for BYO and Mobility actually lies outside of IT
  7. All participants agreed that you must have some type of roadmap or strategy that has buy in from other leaders in the organization, including the CFO
  8. Participants believed strongly in experimenting with pilots across different groups. The thinking is that BYO may not work across the entire organization – and that’s ok
  9. Establishing KPIs early on for any net-new program is critical – even as part of the overall vision – so there is alignment
  10. When it comes to SaaS, users know most of what they want is out there already. They just want IT to make it easier for them, to the point of getting out of their way
  11. Summit participants voiced concerns over the viability and long-term prospects of the many vendors playing in the SaaS space. Specifically, if they go out of business what happens to the data
  12. Even if it was easy to get back, one executive asked “where would we put all that data when our data centers weren’t built for that ?”. The group also recognized there are risks that even they haven’t thought of yet – the invisible ones!
  13. When it comes to cloud, many felt there is a bit of a ‘wait and see” in the short term as the SaaS market is still somewhat immature. That said, doing proper discovery provides the opportunity to do some evaluation through the use of small pilots to prove there are realized cost savings
  14. Collaboration means different things to different people and organizations. The group agreed that at its core, collaboration enables the ability to access data anywhere, anytime, on any device
  15. Many organizations have invested in many different collaboration tools, which has resulted in confusion around how and when they should be are used and integrated
  16. There was agreement that most organizations lack the overall vision for how collaboration comes together to benefit the organization in a way that is measurable, and ensures ROI can be tracked
  17. Change management is paramount when considering collaboration. Without supporting users with the right consistent training, people will revert back to their old, more manual and less cost effective ways
  18. The group felt it was important to move a little differently and adopt a process where you begin with analysis, then move to research on the technology you are looking at followed by a proof of concept and only then if all goes to plan, move to deploy
  19. The measurement of success is something that most organizations struggle with today with their current collaboration investments. The team felt it was important to establish methods up front to track ROI
  20. The ultimate measure of success is that of productivity – and making it easier for people to get things done

Overall, we had some great advice and ideas exchanged in our Megatrend breakouts. Consistently, we heard the need for all of these trends to align with the needs of anytime, anywhere, anyhow and on any device.

Download a longer PDF version of this article here. It includes more details into the various Megatrend breakout sessions, along with the outcomes from the sessions.

Softchoice Innovation Executive Forum: Where Collaboration is the Path to Innovation

Softchoice Innovation Executive Forum: where collaboration is the path to innovation

It’s impossible to ignore. Technology is evolving at an astonishing pace, and major business trends like BYOD, Cloud and UCC are introducing new complexities and challenges for leaders in every business unit – not just within IT.

In fact, the very role of IT is changing the world over, as end-users now make their own choices when it comes to the hardware and software they use – often without the support (or blessing) of IT.

Every organization faces these challenges – whether they realize it or not. And while trying to solve these problems on your own is one approach, there is a better way – one that leverages the collective experiences of senior business leaders who are facing the same challenges (and threats) as you.

Strength in numbers
In response to these emerging business trends, our team has launched the Softchoice Innovation Office, a practice designed to help clients build their vision for the future.

[Read more…]

Why Your BYOD Strategy Must Begin with a Usage Policy

Why Your BYOD Strategy Must Begin with a Usage Policy

In a recent an article on CIO.com, Tom Kaneshige ponders the inevitability of class-action lawsuits by users whose companies cross the divide between the personal and the corporate in a BYOD environment. The blending of personal and company data and applications on user-owned devices becomes a potential minefield. What if company applications are collecting location data on employees after hours? What if IT accidentally does a remote wipe of users’ devices and erases their personal contacts, apps and data?

On the other hand, users expose the company system to potential compromise, too. Rogue apps, insecure Wi-Fi networks and generally poor security practices all pose an element of risk to the company network.

That’s why it’s critical to have a comprehensive BYOD policy up front — and equally critical that employees understand its implications. And defining a BYOD policy guides the technology decisions you’ll make further down the road.

So what goes into a good BYOD policy? Softchoice has had a BYOD policy in place now for about 12 months, and we’ve identified five things (the hard way) that need to be included in your BYOD usage policy from day one.

1. Who pays (and how). With employer-issued devices, the company shoulders a predictable cost. This is not the case for BYOD, since users can purchase from a wide selection of mobile devices. Put together a cost-neutral arrangement for device and data expense coverage and take into account a reasonable refresh rate.

2. Which devices and operating systems. Broadly speaking, there are two types of devices – laptops and mobile devices (including tablets). Policies may differ to reflect the device being used – for example, a 4G mobile connection has embedded security features that laptops connecting over WiFi don’t. Companies concerned about security and support costs might consider a “white list” of devices and operating systems that qualify for the BYOD program.

3. Who has access to what (aka Role-based access). Not everyone needs mobile access to every element of the company system, nor every company application. One common approach to this is role-based access is to assign each user a predefined profile that matches the needs of their corporate role. This also defines responsibility for management of the devices i.e. who’s responsible for installing or uninstalling corporate applications, pushing out updates, etc.

4. Clearly define company versus personal assets. What apps, data and features does the company have access to and control over? As an example, if corporate and personal contact information are stored in one place and a salesperson moves to a competitor, how does the company delete those sales prospects without wiping Mom’s phone number? Can the company use a device’s GPS capabilities to track employees? Here’s where a mobile device management (MDM) platform like Meraki can make a huge difference. But it’s still critical that the parameters between exactly what personal vs. business data is wiped need to be clearly defined and understood by the employee upfront.

5. Security requirements. For many employees, the definition of “workspace” is fluid — office, home, hotel, airport, coffee shop. It’s one of the attractions of mobility. But open environments can be insecure. That Wi-Fi hotspot in the cafe might not be secure, or worse, might actually be a rogue laptop collecting data. A BYOD policy has to define standards for public wireless use, like encryption types and virtual private network (VPN) access, when employees are connecting to the company network.

A BYOD policy also has to cover devices and data at rest. If the user’s device has sensitive data, particularly customers’ personal information, a BYOD policy should spell out encryption requirements and data loss prevention (DLP) protocols. Consider the number of headlines about personal data lost on USB sticks! Data leakage is a very real problem, and a potentially expensive one.

While a solid BYOD policy is complex, it’s critical to start from a policy and let that direct technology decisions, not the other way around. Retrofitting your solution to account for unforeseen issues is expensive and inefficient.

A good place to start is to evaluate where you stand now. Softchoice’s Mobile TechCheck service helps catalogue and identify mobile devices within the business and evaluate their impact.

What would you add (or remove) from this list? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll update the post.