Why Shadow IT doesn’t have to mean people.

The common perception is that Shadow IT means people, however, Shadow IT can be technology that fills a need that enterprise IT is not currently satisfying. Driven by innovation, most of these technologies began as consumer products, seeking broader adoption, they often provided features or capabilities that were desired by the business user. Some of the first devices really were convenience devices that digitized an element of work that was done in an analog fashion. One of the earliest examples of this digitization of the analog world for the consumer was the personal digital assistant (PDA), most notably the Palm Pilot. The PDA foreshadowed the explosion of bring your own devices, as it was carried by users in addition to their corporate devices. Initially there was a reluctance by corporate IT to support these devices, but since they were most effective when they could synchronize with corporate devices, IT compromised and offered support for the application that did synchronization but not the device itself. It also started another trend, devices that were user installable, user configurable and user supported. IT failed to see this changing dynamic in the work place and missed an opportunity to drive other service changes. While the PDA provided value they were still a niche and didn’t gain the wide spread adoption many felt they were destined. That began to change when the features of the PDA were combined with the mobile phone and a new type of device emerged, the smartphone. It posed a new problem for IT, not only did it offer the same set of applications and data synchronization, but it could also now be directly connected to the corporate intranet. Making the problem even more extreme for IT was the significant amount of choice available in the market place. IT could either embrace the choice and drive the support responsibilities to the user, or like IT is prone to do consolidate and standardize. IT chose the latter and begin to treat the smartphone like a corporate asset, this era became known Blackberry Jail.

It would still be sometime before IT could embrace choice and BYOD. During this time some good things did happen to evolve mobility in the workplace. IT figured out how to secure the perimeter, manage access, content and physical connections through approved devices. IT also began to understand the need to rethink their applications because of the new way of working that mobility afforded the user. Also during this time the options for smartphones exploded, previous market leader Blackberry was left by the side by feature rich IOS and Android devices that took market leading positions. Users were not deterred by IT’s reluctance to support these devices and continued to secure, use and support them, they formed informal support groups, sharing tips, tricks and methods to use the devices in a corporate setting. While similar to crowd sourcing, this was the first real indication that social support could play an important role in delivering a delighted user experience. It was another indicator that traditional support settings were changing as the user gained more control over how they managed their experience. Sensing an opportunity, a new class of device management companies emerged, mobile device management offered IT a platform of inclusion for the devices of choice. Not only was IT under pressure, but service providers also need to adapt to this changing environment. Where traditional managed services focused on management of the device, and anticipated a one user to one device ratio, it was becoming more evident that users are using multiple devices. The user context was changing, it wasn’t support my device, it was support me, my data and applications. Users had already ready adopted choose your own device, they were willing to support their choice of phone, tablet and even in many cases laptops, what they needed was ubiquity across those devices, convenience across those devices. Atos responded to this challenge, like other aspects of its service business, it started to transform its workplace business. It rethought the paradigm and instead of putting the device at the center, where traditional management models typically focus, it put the user at the center. The focus was the user work styles, their data and applications, their personal preferences and how they wanted to work. Enabling this is the Digital Hub, an online internet-connected environment, which provides anytime anywhere access to the user applications and data. Engineering this environment is the digital mesh which begins to integrate the digital and physical worlds. Finally, the physical world is the devices we use, the contextual environment we work in. Driving the realization of the future workplace is the result of the convergence of forces in the industry. First is the cloud, it provided the secure framework to deliver to the user their personal and corporate data to any device, anytime. Once data was there the applications followed. Not only were applications evolving and moving to the cloud, many of these applications were going native on the different devices. Unleashed from their traditional boundaries, this new wave of applications became the second force enabling this future workplace. With data and applications on the end points, the ability to manage and secure the devices become the third wave. Modern mobile device management software matured and evolved to unified device management software, giving IT the ability to provide consistency of management and application of policy across all the devices in their portfolio.

What started with an analog to digital transformation with a simple PDA, has evolved in a full realized and transformed Digital Workplace.