How IT can make peace with consumer productivity
by Julia Pickar
The headlines blare: “59 Best Productivity Apps!” “20 Great Productivity Apps for Android, iOS and the Web.” Then there’s the more subtle: “The Best Apps for People With Too Much to Do.”
These articles are wildly popular. Time-strapped people hoping to ‘hack’ their work processes click, read… and download. This doesn’t thrill the IT department. Tech folks have no objection to employees wanting to be more productive, but when each individual mingles dozens of outside devices, tools, and platforms with the corporate network, it can be chaotic.
Showered with productivity and collaboration tools
People love discovering clever, useful applications. If it makes their job easier, good luck getting them not to use it. Here are some of the most widely used, consumer-driven applications.
For each of the applications mentioned above – and hundreds of others as well — IT is concerned about everything from information silos (processes that are not streamlined across departments, thereby cutting off collaboration) to security breaches on sensitive corporate information. But trying to fend off the onslaught of consumer productivity applications is futile. Here are some important guidelines your IT department can consider when balancing this tricky equation:
Get educated on the popular applications
IT organizations must understand those applications that are capturing the imagination of their employees. What function are those apps fulfilling? It is only then they can assess the security, reliability, ease of use and integration into the existing infrastructure. Don’t guess what people are using, ask them.
Coordinate cross-functional groups
It’s important to understand how different departments are using popular applications. To streamline processes, you can’t assume that everyone is using LinkedIn or Google Drive the same way. Gathering a cross-functional working group across departments and functions will give a much better picture of how important it is to integrate certain applications over others.
Get a handle on consumer apps at work
Without a combined effort, strengthening IT security isn’t just difficult, it’s virtually impossible. Start the conversation on security now.Learn more
Explore integration tools
Time for some introspection. How easy is it to fold outside apps onto the network? What about streamlining them across teams and departments? Social networks for example, are crucial business tools for market research. But if they aren’t connected to marketing, CRM and other business-critical systems, valuable insights might not be shared with everyone. Integration platforms are worth investigating. They are helping pull in unstructured data from social networks and other databases and made available on the corporate network.
Mobile, mobile, mobile
Most employees use one smart phone for work and play: their own. The vast majority of companies have made both policy and software changes because of this. Should IT have an inventory of apps running on mobile devices? Should there be a blacklist? It’s worth investigating Mobile Application Management (MAM) tools that help IT support consumer applications while maintaining enterprise security, through authentication, access policy and enforcement, encryption, monitoring and other features. Managing a network requires gatekeeping, facilitating the common language and workflow within the organization, and of course an eye on security. Fortunately, with some guidelines and possibly new integration technology in place, IT can keep the network humming, productivity up, and employees free to explore better ways to work.