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Using Consumer Technology to Boost Enterprise Productivity

Using Consumer Technology to Boost Enterprise Productivity

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 Today we are featuring a guest blog post from Tony Scott, our CIO at Microsoft. Tony will be sharing his perspective of how the consumerization of IT can boost productivity.


I’m old enough to remember when we used the expression, “I’m going to work.” And when I went to work, it was a physical structure and the company provided all of the tools I needed to do my job. That reality has changed. Today, we work wherever we are, whether it’s our office, our home, the airport, our favorite café, or on the road in-between appointments.  And no matter where we are, we want to use the tools that are convenient and relevant to us, both in hardware and applications.

One of the big trends CIOs are facing is the “consumerization of IT ”.  Every day, more employees are using their personal consumer technologies on the job to create seamless integration between their personal and work lives. They are also accessing social networking sites on a regular basis during “work hours”. Oftentimes, organizations can be slow to adopt new technologies and behaviors. Some even put measures in place to block the use of personal devices and access to social networking sites. This can be frustrating for employees, especially technology-savvy newcomers, who have never known a time without the Internet or mobile phones. 

Whether CIOs like it or not, the reality is that the consumerization of IT  is here to stay. The good news is that enterprises can capitalize on this trend and use it to boost employee productivity. 
At Microsoft, we’re experiencing firsthand the influence of IT consumerization in our organization.

We have always encouraged our employees to use a variety of devices and technologies. With this approach, our employees expect to have the freedom to move among devices and visit social media and rich media sharing sites with ease. As you can imagine, security is a concern that we address as each significant new device or technology enters the marketplace. We use a decision framework to assess our risk. On one side of the framework we consider the business value, while risk mitigation is on the other side. We have found that one of the benefits of the infrastructure and applications we use are that they typically span all of this technology, while still providing enterprise-level security.  In essence, business value usually outweighs risk. This has enabled us to continue to encourage our employees to be productive using the consumer technologies and devices that fit their needs. It also gives us, the IT department, an opportunity to explore some of the ways we can improve productivity. Here are some of the benefits we’ve experienced: 

Consumer technology can make it more productive to work remotely. Because the confluence of more powerful consumer devices and a blurring of work and personal time, remote workers increasingly want to use their own devices to get their work done We are  using Microsoft Online Services to make it possible for our employees to  securely access the applications they need from any device with an Internet connection.

Consumer tools can make it easier to find and share information. At Microsoft, employees can set up feeds to receive content updates of interest to them, whether from newswires or internal URL feeds from co-worker blogs. Blogs, like this one, are often used to share information and interact with customers.

Consumer technology can help you build collaborative communities. Our employees often hold formal meetings and informal chat sessions using Lync, allowing dispersed teams to work together more effectively. In addition, employees typically create websites using SharePoint to easily share and organize team information and best practices removing the need to e-mail documents around.

Consumer tools can help you deliver more cost-effective training. We’ve found that audio and video podcasts provide a great way to deliver training to employees. Podcasts are effective, and far less expensive than transporting employees to a central location.

What are some of the ways your organization is leveraging consumer tools to boost workplace productivity? What obstacles have you encountered along the way? Please share your experience. 

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