by Adam Dennison

CIOs vs. Consumer Tech: How to Win Over Your Users

Jun 23, 20143 mins
CIOConsumer ElectronicsIT Strategy

CIO's Publisher Adam Dennison makes the case for CIOs to take advantage of user enthusiasm for new technologies while shoring up security and compliance controls.

When it comes to employee productivity at your company, what has consumerization done for you lately? Has the rising tide of consumer devices changed the user experience for the better? Are your internal customers more satisfied these days?

These questions highlight the conundrum facing so many CIOs: finding the right balance between IT controls and user adoption. I rarely hear CIOs mention bring your own device (BYOD) anymore, let alone talk about crafting new BYOD policies. Everybody’s been there and done that.

Follow everything from CIO on Twitter @CIOonline.

Now CIOs’ main worry is the group of consumer technologies called, as a shorthand, SMAC–social, mobile, analytics, cloud–along with accompanying concerns about security, compliance and integration. Your users want what they want, and they’ll go around you to get it. At our recent CIO Perspectives San Francisco event, a panel of leading venture capitalists empathized with IT’s loss of control over user adoption.

“It’s a tougher time to be a CIO today than ever before,” said former CIO Maynard Webb, founder of Webb Investment Network, at the event. He noted that employees now want to work seamlessly on all their devices, so “expectations of service and flexibility have skyrocketed.”

What’s a CIO to do? Lean in toward employee productivity, user enthusiasm and mass adoption of a popular-yet-far-from-enterprise-ready solution? Revert back to old-school enterprise IT and ratchet up the controls again?

Your users, both internal and external, are gravitating toward whatever they perceive as their most productive tool. I say “perceive” because I have yet to see credible research that proves measurable increases in employee productivity from consumerization trends–but that’s an argument for a different day. If your users are anything like me and my colleagues at CIO magazine, an increase in IT controls would incite rebellion.

My best advice is to get out in front of these (inevitable) user (mis)behaviors by seeking out or creating more secure alternatives. As the CIO, you need to be the one fueling and driving the adoption of these better alternatives. Guide your users toward the new technologies that will support your business processes while still protecting them. Easy for me to say, hard for you to do, right? I’d love to hear your opinion on all this, so drop me a line.

Adam Dennison is publisher of Follow him on Twitter @adamidg. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonlineFacebookGoogle + and LinkedIn.