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CIOs must embrace consumer cloud tools or risk losing control

Matt Kapko | July 15, 2015
IT may not always be comfortable with the cloud apps and services employees use at work, but modern CIOs need to not only ensure the integrity of corporate systems but also set standards for the acceptable use of consumer tools that boost staff productivity.

"If I'm in an individual department, and I'm collaborating with my staff members there then having redundant collaboration systems doesn't really harm the enterprise that much," he says. However, it can get confusing when employees use multiple platforms on projects that require campus-wide collaboration.

 "If I've got one person using SharePoint, one doing Google Docs and one doing Box, that's going to mess up the collaboration," Hites says. "As long as you know how these things are nested within each other and which tool to use for which type of collaboration everything's fine. It's really when you try to use something that wasn't designed for that scale that you get into trouble." 

The range of employee choice has grown considerably, but the use of more than one platform in the enterprise isn't new by any means. Large enterprises with sales, marketing, HR and customer support teams regularly use different applications to get work done, but there are a number of processes between the lines of business that don't always get taken into account by IT, according to IDC's Thompson.

The more cloud tools, the more IT challenges

Without a proper collaboration management framework, company data within employees' personal accounts can be at risk if staffers leave the company. The disposal of junk files and redundant or outdated work stored in the consumer cloud can also be a burden for IT if left unmanaged.

"You start treating the cloud environment and the virtual world like the same file cabinet full of garbage that you had in the past," Hites says. "It makes it hard to find it, it makes it easy to lose and you run a risk because you can't get to those documents when you need them."

The last thing IT wants is to lose control, but CIOs such as Hites and Boyd choose to embrace more flexible environments in order to meet the predominantly mobile-oriented needs of their employees.

"The fiduciary responsibility of IT is to protect the information assets of the company," says Boyd. "That responsibility really requires us to lay down some standards and not to be burdensome. There are areas of flexibility, and where we can be flexible I think we are."


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