Consumer Devices in the Business Environment

Consumer Devices in the Business Environment

Jessica Carroll

Managing Director, Information Technologies


We’ve got a challenge that I’m going to sum up in two words: consumer gadgets. For me, what I’m starting to see is this wave of interest in tools that people have at home that they say, “Hey, I’m using this at home, it works great,” – smart phones are a perfect example of this – “I’ve got the latest and greatest and it’s cool and I’ve got Facebook and I’ve got Twitter on here and I can get to all my favorite apps. So I find it really useful. Why can’t I use that in the office?”

To me this is something that in the past we’ve been able to kind of say, “No, that has no business here.” But I’m starting to sense a need to kind of re-examine this. And I’m thinking that it’s time to say, “Alright, tell me now why this gadget that you feel is so important – tell me why that’s important in the business. Justify it to me. Show me how that will help you in your job and then let’s” – in that open dialogue – “talk about how we can then take that and make that secure in our environment. Because we’ve got to balance those two things.”

So I think what I’m seeing as my challenge now is, instead of being completely turned off to consumer and saying, “Look, this is a business this is all we do”, to say, “OK, there’s some creative thought there. Can we apply that in a productive way and balance that with security at the same time?”

So I see this growing trend and I’ve opened my mind to the thought that OK, there’s something valuable there that I need to listen to because there might be something that can help us as a business. But that’s just a thought so where to go with that. My first place is with other managers; kind of looking at it at that level where we have opportunities to have interdepartment discussions. I can think of a meeting we recently had where this topic came up. I said, “Hey, I see this happening so can you guys think about how this is going to benefit the business, keeping in mind - because you know as well as I do - we’ve got to think about the security end of it too. So think about it and the next time we meet let’s come back and talk about it again and let’s kind of keep this in the top of our mind and see where we want to go.”

Now this may turn out to be: it doesn’t help the business. Maybe the smartphone that we think is fun isn’t going to help us in the business sense and it’s too much risk. Or, as a group we may come back and say, “Hey, you know what? This actually helps us with our social media efforts so it does help the business and we can mitigate the risk by doing x.”

So it’s an open conversation. But I think that’s a great way to at least get somewhere with it.