During a meeting a few weeks ago, two of our teammates, Jack and Kevin, discussed standardization of technology in business.
Sure, it’s great to be able to bring your own device and use your iPhone or Android or whatever you like. It’s also convenient for the employee if they’re able to choose between using a Mac or a PC.
But what happens when there are so many options, users don’t know what to choose? And how does IT manage different operating systems, software, apps, etc.?
As part of our Marketing team and founder of a newly created startup, Jack’s got his hands full. In some ways, standardization would make life simpler, and on the other hand he wants to use the devices that he knows how to use.
With tools like Google Docs and Basecamp, it would be useful to clients to only need to access one account.
I have five different projects at five different sites so often I don’t use any of them. The client should standardize on something and make the service provider use what the client is using.
Jack explained the challenges and benefits of standardization in terms of BYOD policies, which he says are driving by the consumerization of IT.
The user is driving IT departments. Company used to issue you a cell phone and the company programmed it. The same was true for PCs and laptops.
Over the past few years, that policy has changed. The reason is that work and personal life started to kind of mesh. Phones just weren’t for business they were for lots of other things, same with computer and laptop. And we’re using software to do more things with them. The web made it so you could have access to these things all day. None of that existed in the old days.
Companies started to change their own policies about tech and said, we’ll give you a little money toward your phone and you get what you want.
Consumerization is allowing them to use what they like. There are two important factors in business; you have to drive efficiency or effectiveness. Can I make what you’re trying to work on effective instead of just efficient.
It was more efficient when there was a corporate IT infrastructure. It’s more effective to let people use what their comfortable with. Can we find a way to make something that’s more effective also more efficient?
The problem is that now there are so many options, individuals don’t always know what to choose.
As the founder of CQL and head of IT, Kevin has a pretty obvious interest in what technology and devices we use around the office. Plus, he sees advancements in technology as an exciting business challenge.
Twenty years ago, I could tell you what software was on every device in an office and what you’d need to know to do your job.
The problem today is there are lots of options out there, and many with little to no costs. Now there’s no business justification to say you can’t use Gmail or Google Docs because they’re free.
But how do you manage a nonstandard organization? How do you manage BYOD policies instead of standard devices managed by the company?
One of the most exciting things was Jack sitting here saying ‘I can’t keep up with this anymore. There’s so much out there I don't know what to use.’ Whose products and software are we supposed to use? How do we manage all that? I got excited because someone complained there’s too much and it’s interesting to figure out how you standardize on that.
Are we going to see a shift in it again where we’re going to start to standardize on what the company should use?
I think this helps justify that you do need a standardization person. You need to be able to have someone stand up and say, ‘this is what we’re going to use and support.’ It’s as if you need a translator now. We’re all speaking different languages. How do we communicate if we don’t know what the other person is saying? There’s Basecamp, Microsoft Project, Smartsheet, etc. You need someone who knows the language and can standardize on it to make your company most effective.
On one hand, I believe you need standardization in an organization to be most efficient, but with all the options out there and an ever changing device factory, how do you manage for efficiency and effectiveness?
There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer here, and even these two opinions have some overlap. What do you think about standardization? Are BYOD policies helpful, or do they cause additional problems? Share your input in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Brad Frost