Bring Your Own Software

June 10, 2013
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For the last few years, it’s become very difficult for IT to police who brings personal devices into the enterprise (never mind what people do with them). If you’re reading this site, you’ve probably heard of BYOD, a trend that will surely continue. Google Glass and its ilk are coming soon.

For the last few years, it’s become very difficult for IT to police who brings personal devices into the enterprise (never mind what people do with them). If you’re reading this site, you’ve probably heard of BYOD, a trend that will surely continue. Google Glass and its ilk are coming soon. These devices pose additional risks for IT departments determined to prevent data theft, security breaches, and industrial espionage.

But what about bringing your own software? Is this a nascent trend about which IT has to worry?

Yammer: A Case Study

True enterprise collaboration software has existed for a quite some time. More than a decade ago, we began to hear of corporate intranets and knowledge bases. One of the first proper collaboration applications: Microsoft SharePoint. Such promise!

Lamentably, employees did not consistently use these tools throughout the enterprise. For a host of reasons, many organizations continued to rely upon email as the killer collaboration app. Generally speaking, this was a mistake. Email doesn’t lend itself to true collaboration, and some CEOs even banned email.

Faced with the need to share information in a more efficient manner, many people began collaborating on the worst possible place: Facebook. From a recent study:

Facebook is a collaboration platform twice as popular as SharePoint — 74% to 39%. It’s also four times more popular than IBM Open Connections (17%) and six times more popular than Salesforce’s Chatter (12%).

The study, of 4,000 users and 1,000 business and IT decision-makers in 22 countries, also said 77% of managers and 68% of users say they now use some form of enterprise social networking technology. IT decision makers said such social technologies make their jobs more enjoyable (66%), more productive (62%) and “help them get work done faster” (57%). All in all, said Avanade, of those businesses currently using social collaboration tools, 82% want to use more of them in the future.

bring your own software

The governance, security, and privacy issues posed by using the world’s largest social network as an enterprise collaboration tool are hard to overstate. Yet, many experienced IT professionals became fed up with clunky top-down collaboration tools like SharePoint.

Consider the recent success of Yammer, a Freemium-based and organic alternative to top-down tools like SharePoint. Yammer became so popular precisely because it was organic. That is, employees could download the application and kick its tires. IT did not need to deploy or bless it. Organizations could date before they got married. If they wanted to expand its use–or unlock key functionality, they could pay for Yammer. And that’s exactly what many organizations did. To its credit, about a year ago, Microsoft purchased Yammer for more than $1 billion in cash.

Simon Says

CXOs should think very carefully about whether their current applications enable their organizations and employees to be productive. These days, it doesn’t take a computer scientist to circumvent restrictive corporate IT policies. Yammer is not unique. In other words, if it can go viral within an organization, other applications can.

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