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A not so subtle undertone of CES 2013 was the expanding presence of the cloud, smartphone and tablet apps that connect consumer products with online user data and services. IT organizations of mid-sized businesses are already familiar with consumer devices, apps and cloud services, including smartphones, tablets, Dropbox, Google apps, SugarSync, Evernote, iCloud, Microsoft SkyDrive and Yammer (to name a few), that utilize online storage and application services. Even though many of these cloud services have little or no corporate IT administration capabilities, services like Google Drive, Evernote and Dropbox are accepted solutions in many small-to-medium sized companies.
More consumer cloud services and devices are headed into the business environment as employees erase the boundaries that separate company approved solutions and technology end users’ use in their connected lives. Health and wellness biometric sensors, wi-fi enabled cameras, audio connected devices, cloud connected cars and trucks, social networking, cloud-based home security monitoring and smart home devices… all types of personal and consumer products represent “connections” end users want to bring with them and access from the workplace.
Consumer technology has shifted from connecting your device to a computer to configure, sync or download data, to registering your device or user account with the accompanying consumer cloud service to perform sync, access data and utilize online services. IT customers bring personal smartphones and tablets into the workplace everyday, expecting to use their consumer devices and accompanying apps as essential productivity and communications tools. This consumer cloud and app bundling is now the norm — Count up the number of apps and online services you use on a weekly or even daily basis. You’ll be surprised at how many cloud services are tied to devices and apps that tag along with you everyday.
All of this represents the next steps beyond BYOD, what I refer to as Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC). With devices comes apps, and with those apps comes the cloud services they rely upon. Depending on your corporate IT DNA and acceptance of using personal devices connecting in the workplace, BYOC can represent a great opportunity or an even greater challenge to IT’s ability to weave together a suite of productivity tools and applications, while still meeting uptime, interoperability, corporate data protection and security requirements.
What does this trend mean for mid-sized business IT organizations? As IT leaders we must anticipate users wanting, and expecting, to use more consumer devices, apps and cloud services in the work place. We can either embrace the challenge and determine how to best adapt to IT customers use of BYOC, or deny its existence all the while it is happening around us. My approach has always been to figure out how to embrace what IT customers want to do, help find solutions and strategies to make it work, not ways to shoot down their ideas. Don’t be the traditional IT “Land of No”. (See my post IT can’t say No anymore, Learn how to say Yes.)
In my next blog post, we’ll talk about strategies to help you avoid being the IT Land of No in your quest to embrace the challenges of BYOC.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.