Consumer tech invading business

Is it possible to cross the business/consumer tech chasm successfully?

"People have an inbuilt need to find solutions to problems. If you want to ensure your IT strategy is truly aligned with the objectives of your business you should not rule out the possibility that the solutions your workforce need to meet their goals may well have their origins in the consumer space today," Whiteside added. "It's also advisable to listen to your users and gather feedback before establishing the boundaries. That way you minimise the risk of them introducing unauthorised technology which could compromise security."

Work and play

A recent whitepaper published by analyst IDC highlighted the increasing consumerisation of technology in the workplace. It found that more than two-thirds of respondents use their mobiles for both work and play, while 64 per cent have the same usage pattern for their laptops.

Another headline figure from the research was the fact that 34 per cent of people use text and instant messaging for both business and pleasure.

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Interestingly, the research found that UK consumers are more in tune to the benefits of text and IM at work, with twice as many Brits opting for these comms options than in the US.

"[Successful consumer/corporate tech] has to be able to deliver business benefits. There are lots of gadgets and communications devices at large in the consumer world that cannot offer any true business value. To be successful in the corporate world, consumer technology must succeed in connecting the business to the consumer or enhancing the productivity of employees," said Geoff Hall, Nortel's chief technology officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

"For instance, enterprises are now building new relationships with customers by leveraging Web 2.0. Applications such as blogs and other social media avenues help to create an ongoing dialogue with customers that can be valuable in generating revenue and customer satisfaction."

The Facebook divide

Another clear trend which spans the historic divide between corporate and consumer is Facebook. While many companies have attempted to ban the application for fear of lost productivity or data being compromised, others have been embracing its existence with arms stretched open wide.

WorkLight has created a secure overlay for Facebook called WorkBook. It means businesses can engage with their customers, partners and other key stakeholders without comprising security. The tool can also be integrated easily with corporate applications and systems such as Microsoft's SharePoint.

"Each company has its own needs and prerogatives, but it is clear from our experience that allowing employees the flexibility to use emerging tools, such as Facebook, brings with it added value to the business," said David Lavenda, the company's vice president of marketing and product strategy.

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