As part of Olswang's industry leading +Technology event series, Work +Technology an event run in association with Lloyds Bank (8 May 2012) looks at the extraordinary rise and impact of tablet and smartphone devices on conventional top-down models of information use and technology management in business.
In this pre-event interview, Phil Smith, CEO of Cisco UK & Ireland explores the issues and impact of this bottom-up approach to enterprise technology.
1. How are connected/tech savvy employees changing the way we work?
In just a short period of time 'bring your own device' has become common business parlance. But for businesses, simply allowing access of personal devices isn't the answer. To ensure success it's a question of enabling relevant, secure access across the entire network, while protecting corporate assets and delivering an optimal user experience.
Employee demand and expectation is driving the BYOD scheme at Cisco. Our IT department see it as a way to keep up with the demand of the workforce.
We are reducing total cost of IT whilst improving productivity, user experience and satisfaction. It's a win-win situation for all.
2. What is the impact of mobile working on businesses?
The specific demands of an organisation's industry segment and corporate culture are driving BYOD decisions. For many organisations today, the BYOD issue is less a matter of 'No, we can't do it' and more a question of 'How do we do it?' What positive, responsive actions should we take to manage the mobile device situation in our organisation?
I have seen a number of organisations in recent months moving from either blocking or not prioritising, to embracing. As a result, progressive organisations are already beginning to explore the business value, ranging from increased productivity to a more inclusive and diverse organisation.
Other factors to consider include workforce mobility and the proliferation of new devices.
At Cisco we have encouraged and applied a BYOD policy since 2009. Giving employees the freedom to use their personal devices (tablets, smartphones etc.) alongside their work devices harnesses the power of accessing information whenever and wherever they want. As a result, we have seen a high adoption of employee funded devices, which are then supported, through an internal wiki, which has driven employee satisfaction while reducing cost to the business.
Whilst it will differ from organisation to organisation, we know flexible working hours are hugely appealing to a lot of employees. It's also important in driving a strong inclusion and diversity culture, attracting and retaining a broad demographic of staff. From an attraction and retention perspective, employees will start looking at BYOD policies in addition to traditional benefits such as healthcare, flexible working options, pensions and company cars.
3. How are IT departments coping with the introduction of new technology to their systems?
The BYOD journey is about creating a user-focused network that supports the next-generation mobility experience. People want to feel comfortable with using their own personal device at work.
This is placing huge demands on networks and on IT organisations who need to identify and provision access for a multitude of devices, while maintaining a high level of security, performance and control.
The BYOD model will inevitably demand new support and operational structuring, requiring businesses to plan and budget accordingly.
4. Security and data protection, can businesses truly ensure safety?
Governance is critical to the success of the "Any Device" journey. In addition to the actual security technology in the network, Cisco maintains a BYOD steering committee, which is led by IT but includes key stakeholders from other business units, such as human resources and legal.
Getting the importance of security across to employees can be difficult when tackling BYOD. Making board level executives ambassadors for security is one way of increasing awareness around this issue. Every year a message is also sent out to all employees and outlines the importance of security.
Companies need to maintain the focus of security and driving awareness and policy is key.
5. How can/does a business keep up with technology?
IT is key to the success of today's organisations. Businesses that don't view IT as a boardroom priority run the risk of being labelled 'laggards' in this dynamic environment and losing competitive advantage in talent attraction and retention.
At Cisco we view IT's role, specifically that of the network, as a key enabler for our employees to work in the most productive way. Add to this the growing demand for BYOD and remote working, then it's important that your business IT infrastructure is fit for purpose.
For details on Olswang's Work +Technology event please click here.