Almost everyone has their own way of working, whether at their desks or remotely on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or one of the new wearable devices. The office is no longer a focus where people have to congregate to work. Modern communications has broken down that conformity and people now have the freedom, flexibility and choice in the way they go about their daily tasks.
There are plenty of studies about how this not only provides a boost to productivity but also makes workers happier. Staff are more inclined to work if it fits in around their personal lives and less inclined to leave jobs in search of something easier.
It is no surprise to learn that nobody likes paperwork, especially if it is repetitive or tedious. If automation can make the process smoother, then everybody is happy and it seems clear that the advent of ‘computing everywhere’, a phrase first coined by Gartner, is a step change in how and where we work.
This new way of working has crept up on us. A few years ago, people started using their smartphones for work. IT departments developed policies accordingly – some devices were allowed, some not, but there was always an element of control.
Recently, the number of devices has exploded and the addition of wearable technology, the IBM-Apple partnership and HP’s entry into the mobile market will precipitate even more growth. The floodgates have opened and the same level of control over information is no longer possible. Almost anything – from a phone to a tablet to a watch – could be an endpoint on the network these days.
Juniper Research estimates that employee-owned smartphones and tablets used as part of bring your own device (BYOD) policies will increase to over one billion devices globally by 2018. This predicted figure, which accounts for 35% of all consumer mobile devices, is the result of increased mobile adoption and the realisation that mobile devices can help to improve work-life balance.
The implications for IT departments are huge – both from a productivity and security point of view. The challenge for them now is not how to manage a specific device on the network, but how to make sure that every employee gets access to the information he or she needs – regardless of the device they are using.
The days are gone when the IT department could throw a security blanket over their assets – the perimeter has well and truly disappeared. So we also need a new way of controlling access to sensitive information and ensuring that critical information only reaches the right people – not to mention making sure that all relevant regulations are being complied with.
What does it all mean for the long-suffering IT department? It requires a shift in thinking from the device back to the infrastructure that serves those devices. It means taking a step back to look at how the company works today – which will be very different from even a year ago – and how information flows around it.
It means understanding the processes that make up that work, automating the ones that can be automated and streamlining the ones that can’t. The alternative is chaos and workers resorting to their own – usually insecure and inefficient – methods of sharing of filing information, such as local drives, USB sticks and consumer cloud file storage.
Computing is indeed all around us. Now we need to make sure that it's delivering information to the right people in the right places.
Sourced from John Newton, Alfresco