Just when they thought they had a handle on employee demand for mobility through BYOD policies, CIOs are now being asked to tackle the latest consumerisation curve ball: Bring-your-own applications (BYOA).
Thanks to an explosion of mobile apps on smartphones, employees today have a range of software options for use in the workplace, whether their organisation approves of them or not.
Many of these, including note-taking app, Evernote, and file-syncing app, Dropbox, cost little to nothing and present a low barrier to entry for consumers. However, such public cloud apps are raising significant concerns in organisations seeking to keep their data secure.
While it's still early days for many Australian organisations in writing a BYOA policy, the CIOs of several groups, including Coca-Cola Amatil and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), are exploring how BYOA can drive business productivity.
"When people embrace a technology they use, they typically become more productive," claims CASA CIO, John Forrest.
Coca-Cola Amatil Group CIO, Barry Simpson, agrees. "You're better off harnessing the energy than trying to fight it. A better strategy than banning BYOA is generating an environment where your customers have access to the apps they need and at scale."
Making it personal
While BYOD focused on using personal hardware in the workplace, BYOA is all about the personal software running on the device.
"Rather than an IT department making all the decisions regarding the software tools that people will be using to be productive in a working environment, [workers] are essentially being given the latitude to make some decisions on the stuff that they believe is going to make them productive," explains Gartner analyst, Brian Prentice.
"Organisations are recognising there is an element of control they were once able to exert over the corporate computing environment, which doesn't exist anymore. That doesn't mean there is no control, but there is a shifting landscape."
Simpson has chosen not to ban personal apps on iPads used by the Coca-Cola Amatil sales force, and instead sees the apps as a source of new ideas to bring into the business.
"If you're not going to provide the capability in the company, then people will find another way," he says. "If that's how the world works, then you need to be trying to provide better platforms and making your technology easy to consume, then embracing people's ideas and innovations as part of your core business."
Forrest has seen high demand from CASA staff for personal productivity apps and predicts BYOA could one day be an important part of its mobility strategy.
"It drives the business users to actually look at what is available out there [and discover] what technologies can make them work more effectively and more efficiently," he says.
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