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How Consumerization of IT Led Kaplan to Google Apps

Kristin Burnham | Jan. 18, 2013
At Kaplan, a genuine enthusiasm for technology comes from the top: Its CIO embraces the consumerization of IT and wants employees to be as excited about technology as he is. That culture led Kaplan to migrate from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps and, mostly recently, to Google+.

2. Acknowledge Risks and Trust Employees

When Hanapole introduced Google+ to Kaplan, there was some concern about employees inadvertently sharing company information with people they shouldn't, he says. Employees can create groups of people with which they can selectively share information. Google+ calls these Circles, which can consist of different departments and even customers outside the enterprise, for example.

To combat this, Hanapole says Kaplan enabled the Google+ administration features, which allow them to set the default visibility for new posts to be restricted to their domain. They also use an external service called CloudLock, which gives administrators visibility into statistics on sharing inside and outside the domain.

Hanapole says users are also reminded to make sure they're managing their Circles carefully to avoid cross-contaminating internal groups with external people, though Kaplan hasn't experienced many of those problems.

"When you deploy this type of technology, there is a level of trust you need to have in your employees," Hanapole says. "Sure, you take on additional risk, but you also get a higher employee satisfaction rate because you trust them."

To Hanapole, that risk is well worth the reward-and necessary to support Kaplan's clients: students and teachers.

"I feel strongly that as leaders of technology, we need to be providing our employees with the technologies and solutions they are becoming increasingly comfortable with: mobile, tablets, social networks, cloud-they're all being led by consumers and most importantly our students," he says. "As we obsess over student outcomes, it's essential that our employees are adept at the same technologies that our students use to work, learn and play."

3. Offer Training

Kaplan produced training videos and hosted lunch-and-learn sessions to introduce employees to the Google Apps suite and show them how to use the platform. While many employees embraced the service-and already knew how to use it-there were some who were less enthusiastic, Hanapole says. Over time, though, they too have come to praise the collaboration features.

"Making these types of transitions as a tech leader helps to raise the level of awareness of the entire employee base," he says. "You're helping them become more aware of what's possible with cloud computing and how that can benefit them in the work they do."

When Gmail first launched, Hanapole and his team prepared by staffing the helpdesk, expecting to get an influx of calls-but that never happened.

"During the two releases we did, we were consistently amazed by the lack of volume coming into the helpdesk," he says. "With the hype around IT consumerization, it becomes real when you go into a massive rollout that affects everyone's desktop, and yet the phone doesn't ring. Customers and employees are already used to using these tools."


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