CIOs: Get a grip on your company's app usage

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The Changing Role of CIOs

By Sanjay Beri

Chief Information Officer’s roles and responsibilities have long been subject to changes that come with strides in technological innovation. Successful CIOs take these changes as opportunities, ensuring that strategic technology investments play a central role in meeting larger business goals. But what does it take to be a high-impact CIO? How can today’s CIOs simultaneously make informed technology decisions that keep processes streamlined, ensure employee satisfaction and have a significant impact on the business’ bottom line?

Today’s workforce is global and 24/7. For CIOs, making informed decisions and supporting the needs of tech-savvy employees means adapting to new standards and empowering personnel with the tools they need to be successful at their jobs. People use an average of 26 applications to get through the work day – from Google Apps, to Dropbox, to Evernote – and you can imagine how frequently app usage changes as needs evolve and new apps hit the market. In this state of constant ambiguity, you can’t effectively build for what you don’t know – you have to construct an environment open to change with a foundation of security. CIOs today must negotiate the implementation of technology employees prefer while supporting business processes and security, and can do so through focusing on one thing: enablement.

Gaining Insights

Understanding which technologies your staff uses on a regular basis gives you clarity into how they choose to work and can help you design a policy that matches their IT preferences. Learning which cloud apps, for example, employees use can be telling. But what’s even more revealing is our research that shows most companies aren’t aware of the number of cloud apps in use by their personnel.

This insight can allow you to identify and eliminate duplication and cut costs. It’s probable that your workforce uses a number of different apps for the same purpose, even if your company has standardized on one. By catching redundancies and offering a variety of sanctioned apps, you can ensure consistency in usage, limit unexpected costs and keep your company’s sensitive information secure.

Giving People What They Want

By enabling employees to use the apps they want, CIOs can become the hero of the organization by allowing people to work in ways that will make them most productive. One example of this comes from Whirlpool. As Whirlpool shifted toward being more of a consumer-focused brand, and more digital natives began to join their workforce, Whirlpool’s CIO moved the company’s email system from IBM Notes to Google Apps. Knowing that Whirlpool’s employees working together across the globe would thrive with collaboration and many employees were already using Google Apps in their personal lives, the Google Apps implementation increased employee satisfaction and boosted efficiencies and productivity across the organization.

Liz Claiborne tackled a similar productivity challenge with its corporate travel and expense policies. Without a standardized tool for employees to track travel booking expenses and expense reporting, the company had long suffered the consequences of archaic reporting methods and lacked the ability to enforce corporate policies, which put them at risk for data leakage. To make reporting easier for employees, as well as manage data security and ensure policy compliance, Liz Claiborne implemented Concur, a cloud app that provides integrated travel and expense management tools. By streamlining processes with one sanctioned app, the company gave its workforce an easy-to-use, time-saving solution that has increased employee compliance to 90 percent and efficiencies to 82 percent.

Sanctioning apps gives your workforce access to productivity tools you’ve deemed secure, and eliminates risks and costs associated with unknown app usage. Technology implementation decisions like Whirlpool and Liz Claiborne’s require an understanding that adoption won’t necessarily be immediate or universal, but are made with each employee’s, and the company’s, best interests in mind. Policy creation should be an outcome of understanding your app environment. Learning the story of your company’s app usage will enable you to make well-informed decisions that can help you align employee preferences and business needs.

Being Flexible

Whether you’re providing a solution to fill a need or creating structure to support productivity and security, CIOs can empower their workforce by creating environments capable of handling diverse technologies. Enabling your workforce means practicing flexibility by letting your employees use the tools they need while also anticipating the threats they might encounter. Doing so should help you demonstrate business benefits of app usage, empower employees and validate how sanctioned app use can be a productive and secure endeavor for an enterprise.

Sanjay Beri, CEO and founder of Netskope, is passionate about helping customers get the most out of technology. He has a track record of growing market-leading companies, and is a skilled engineer and trusted leader whose reputation helped him build a veritable dream team of industry veterans at Netskope.

Prior to Netskope, Sanjay was the general manager of Juniper Network’s secure access and mobile business units and led the company’s India office. Before that, he co-founded Ingrian Networks, which was later acquired by SafeNet. Sanjay also has held a variety of key roles at Microsoft, Newbridge Networks (now Alcatel) and McAfee. He holds numerous patents in the area of networking and Internet security, and has led the design, development and marketing of software, firmware, and hardware in various industries. Sanjay got an MBA from University of California, Berkeley, and has a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Waterloo.

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