Q&A: Stuart Lynn, CIO at Sage

The CIO of the UK-based firm gives us his thoughts on topics as wide-ranging as BYOD to Windows 8.

Sage provides a range of business software for thousands of firms in the UK, including Specsavers, Lloyds TSB and the MarussiaF1 team.

IT Pro caught up with Stuart Lynn, the company's CIO, to discuss all manner of things ranging from the consumerisation of IT and BYOD policies as well as the importance of infrastructure and Windows 8's role in business.

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As a CIO, what are your thoughts on the growing trend of BYOD? Is this something you actively encourage at Sage?

It is important for employees to use devices that they are comfortable with.

BYOD is a trend that is coming over from the US where businesses have a different mindset they want employees to pay for their own equipment.

If someone needed a mobile device for work, I'd rather buy them one. However, we don't stop employees from using their own devices for work purposes.

What sort of devices do you deploy at Sage? Do you have a preference for a particular platform?

I've got 2,500 people in the UK and Ireland. Some have multiple devices such as mobiles, desktops and laptops. We've been replacing desktops with laptops to help facilitate mobile working.

In terms of platforms, there is a big push on Apple devices in the workplace such as iPads. Today, I would prefer employees to have an Apple device because we can manage it centrally.

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The team building the entry level SaaS products use Macs because programs such as Ruby on Rails work better. Our graphic design people use Apple products too. More sales people are starting to use Apple laptops, as there is a big attraction to devices such as the MacBook Air.

We've got a few Android users and Windows Phone devices being used, but the majority are using Blackberrys and Apple devices.

I'm a fan of Apple products. I've got an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and a 27in iMac and people ask me whether it affects my judgment when it comes to deployment. The answer is no.

I'm happy with giving users a choice as to which device they use, as I don't think enforcement is the right way to go. It is important for employees to use devices that they are comfortable with as this will only increase productivity.

With the push towards using mobile devices, wireless connectivity is more important than ever. Can you tell us how you manage Wi-Fi use?

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We've got 1200 people on site in Newcastle and there used to be enormous pressure on the Wi-Fi network.

We've had to spend many tens of thousands of pounds on a Wi-Fi infrastructure to ensure it allows users to connect, [as well as investing in] device security and management.

You can't just give out a Wi-Fi key to one person as it goes viral so we have security tokens and compartmentalise the Wi-Fi.

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