Aston Martin, NHS IT bosses' tech response to consumerisation

See also: Aston Martin and Inner North West London PCT in CIO 100

It may be tempting to think that consumerisation of IT will make the CIO’s technical duties simpler, but nothing could be further from the truth.

It is true that consumer devices are designed to operate with a low-level of user technical knowledge and little or no technical support.

But on the other side, they have not been intended to be used to store and process the sort of critical, sensitive data or communications that businesses depend on.

CIOs must address these back-office issues to retain a coherent delivery of business systems, without losing the benefits of choice and flexibility.

A recent webcast hosted by CIO UK and including Simon Callow, head of IT at Aston Martin Lagonda, Owen Powell, IT director for NHS inner Northwest London PCT and Stephen Shakespeare, EU software director at Intel, established that there are some key technical considerations that must be taken into account if any CIO is to make a success of adopting a consumerisation approach.

There is a vast number of productivity-enhancing applications that users can download onto their smart devices, without the need for the IT department’s input, but it is likely to be the more mundane ones that will have the most impact.

Legacy office applications like a calendar and information streams such as news and weather forecasts are likely to be universally used.

This is good news for CIOs because it indicates that there will be some standard application requirements throughout their organisation.

Mobile and flexible
As Aston Martin’s Callow says, mobility is probably the key benefit that consumerisation brings and his main concern is to make it possible with respect to the sorts of enterprise applications that he has deployed.

Aston Martinhas recently deployed a bundle of Microsoft applications based around the Office 365 platform.

This cloud-based suite of applications allows Aston Martin employees to access shared resources, like email and scheduling anywhere on any supporting device, just as they would at their desks.

Callow explains that actually, much of the workforce remains in a single building, but that doesn’t diminish the system’s ability to enhance flexible working within the office.

He adds: “Linking that through to some of the offerings like SharePoint enables us to then share the information.”

Consumerisation carries with it a certain expectation by users of reliability, which is why Callow has chosen an off-the-shelf approach to supporting employees’ mobile devices.

Lync is also used at the car manufacturer, to allow staff to know when their colleagues are contactable, all contributing to the ease of collaboration the company needs to stay competitive in the luxury car market.

“[Office 365] gives us that ability to share information, share desktops, but also to see the availability of these individuals and have chat- conversations,” he says. “Whether it's through an instant-messaging solution like link or whether it be through video link and actually talking to a shared desktop, that then improves collaboration.”

CIO Event:

The CIO Big Conversation
Consumerisation: How to manage the new era of mobility

Date: Thursday 25th October 2012
Time: 6:30pm
Location: The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, London

To register for your place, email

Event Overview:

The Big Conversation is a business technology leadership forum that brings IT leaders together to listen, share & shape opinions on the key issues the CIO community faces. The evening will include a keynote from a top CIO 100 speaker sharing his experiences on this topic, as well as the opportunity to share your views with fellow CIOs over networking drinks and canapés.

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