IBM CIO bets big on digital workplace to lure tech talent

IBM’s IT department is focused on empowering 400,000 IBMers with technologies that resemble tools they use in their consumer lives, including Macs and cloud applications such as Slack and Box.

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It wasn’t long ago that IBM’s 400,000 employees performed their duties on PCs with the company’s commercial productivity and collaboration applications. Oh, how times have changed.

Today’s IBMers dine both on the company’s dogfood and popular third-party devices and software, including applications from Box and Slack and Apple iPhones and iPads. Credit IBM’s new CIO Fletcher Previn, who rolled out Macs to employees prior to his promotion, with accelerating the company’s march toward a more democratic, digital workplace.

Previn told CIO.com that IBM’s philosophy is “informed by our experience in deploying Macs and things that we’re all just observing and things we saw at companies like Apple.” Previn doesn’t believe that enterprise software needs to be complicated. Instead, IBM is “applying the same standards to internal IT tools as you would expect from your consumer life,” he added.

Consumerization is the driving force behind “shadow IT,” in which employees cast aside business devices for personal ones and log into unsanctioned cloud applications on the sly. But most CIOs have embraced the phenomenon by creating flexible workplace policies that allow employees to use the tools they prefer. CIOs recognize that nothing good will come of making employees, especially self-directed millennials, use technology they don’t want to use.

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