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Consumerizing IT, KM and Enterprise Search

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SAP is not the only vendor in the consumerized knowledge access horse race. Good Technology offers a robust contact management and e-mail solution. Like the once-dominant Research in Motion's BlackBerry, Good Technology requires that an enterprise server be installed. Good's approach implements data protection, security functions and encryption. The Good server allows a system administrator to set up access policies and restrict certain functions, such as copying and pasting data from the iPad display to a file.

One key feature of the Good iPad app is that a "remote wipe" can be performed if a device is lost or stolen. If a Good app user provides the iPad, Good makes it possible to delete the corporate data, leaving personal data intact. An organization can use the Good solution to distribute additional corporate iPad apps directly. No trip to the Apple app store is required.

There is little information about the number of organizations deploying iPad and Android apps. However, the surge of interest surrounding new releases of hardware devices like the 2012 version of the iPad suggests that Apple devices can capture the attention of consumers and the media. The impact on the organization is likely to increase. The surge of interest in personal computers had a 30-year run.

Three realities of the consumerization trend

For knowledge management professionals, there are some clear signals about the opportunities and changes ahead. They are as follows:

First, users of consumer devices like Android-based smart phones or Apple iPads will expect software to be easy to use. One of the knocks against enterprise solutions has long been the complexity of the system and the learning curve that users face. Information technology departments will have to respond to user demands for software that is intuitive or face a revolt that not even the most indifferent management can ignore.

Second, information technology professionals will have to find, implement and support radically different ways of accessing enterprise information. The "social revolution" may not be the game changer that some experts predict. Nevertheless, mobile device users will want to forward data to colleagues, open ad hoc messaging sessions and access data from airport terminals, traffic jams and hotel lobbies. The pressure on existing infrastructure and staff will increase. During the shift from desktop tethering to the app-centric method, the tension between business and IT professionals will ratchet upward.

Third, senior managers will have to face the financial realities of the consumerization trend. The hoped-for cost savings from cloud computing are real. Savings, however, will have to be directed at reworking some fundamental approaches in enterprise information technology. Unlike the shift to faster processors or higher bandwidth, the consumerization of knowledge access will impose additional costs. Free lunches, like free apps, may not satisfy the enterprise sweet tooth.

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