How Consumerization of IT Led Kaplan to Google Apps

At Kaplan, a genuine enthusiasm for technology comes from the top: Its CIO embraces the consumerization of IT and wants employees to be as excited about technology as he is. That culture led Kaplan to migrate from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps and, mostly recently, to Google+.

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Thu, January 17, 2013

CIOCost-savings, greater reliability, built-in disaster recovery and the simplicity of the cloud were all factors that sold Kaplan CIO Edward Hanapole on migrating the education products and services company from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps. But there was another equally important reason: Staying ahead of the consumerization of IT curve.

"It's important for CIOs to stay current with trends: You don't want your employees to have better devices at home than at work," Hanapole says. "I want employees to be obsessed with tech and continue to be excited by the tools they get to work with."

After successfully migrating Kaplans 25,000 employees to Google Apps in late 2011, Hanapole embarked on a 500-employee pilot of Google+, Google's social network. This platform, he says, has been instrumental in bridging that gap between the tech employees use at home and at work.

"Part of what I've been trying to do is start embracing what our employees want from a core communications point of view," he says. "You need to acknowledge that your employees are increasingly digital natives and you need to stay current by living in the world they're living in. That's what makes you a better leader."

Kaplan's Google+ pilot wrapped up in December, and the service is now deployed to almost all employees. Here are four steps you can take to embrace consumerization of IT based on lessons Hanapole and his team learned from integrating Google+ in the enterprise.

[How to Use Social Media to Create Business Value]

1. Makeover Your Mindset

Hanapole acknowledges that not everyone is "as obsessed" with technology as he is, and that not everyone is a digital native. But that's changing, he says, and he wants to stay ahead of that curve. That means moving toward social networks and collaborative streams.

"It's important to provide modern communications in the enterprise to encourage the same kind of communications and collaboration between our employees, partners and students," Hanapole says. "As CIOs, we need to advance along with what our clients expect from technology, and ensure that we're taking appropriate measures to keep the enterprise safe."

Keeping the enterprise safe is key: Hanapole says Kaplan isn't blind to the fact that employees access and use social networks regularly, which puts the company at risk. But, he says, you can either try to neutralize this risk by giving employees the tools they want inside the enterprise, or work tirelessly to block workarounds that employees find.

"It would be more effective and safer to the enterprise to embrace the changes and sponsor them in a controlled manner than allowing our resources to work outside the system with no controls or protections," he says. "Google has made great improvements that make the use of Google+ a solution that works well to start modernizing communications at Kaplan with the controls you would want to see between enterprise messaging and the public."

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