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Post-PC Strategy: The storm before the calm

Learn more about the disconnect between employee expectations and IT requirements in a mobile-enabled world.

Overview

CIOs face great upheaval regarding the hardware they deploy to employees. A generation ago, they had to determine whether applications were best run on mainframes, minicomputers or PCs connected through local-area networks. Each of those required significant financial investment, but the decision was not complicated by employees clamoring for the technologies they wanted.

What is different about today is that, for the first time, employees are making demands about the technology they use. Smartphones and tablets have evolved from consumer toys to corporate tools. And in many cases, even without corporate IT permission, employees are going ahead and buying those tools themselves.

Learn more about Accenture Mobility.

Background

Business users have turned the tables on IT. For years, IT evaluated new tools and technologies and deployed them to serve users’ needs, only to have those users often balk at shifting from time-tested processes to new, unfamiliar technologies. In the past, IT faced challenges with large enterprise deployments, but now with mobile technology, employees have found technology that they actually love to use and that they are demanding to use at work.

Having grown accustomed to consumer-based mobile technology and applications that work more intuitively and quickly, employees want corporate applications that behave in the same way. That is consumerization at its most challenging for IT—it is not just the plethora of mobile devices, but the ease with which employees have mastered them. Perhaps for the first time, employee expectations (though not necessarily their understanding of what is required) is actually ahead of IT.

Analysis

Unfortunately, there is still a disconnect between what employees want and what IT needs. Employees want advanced mobile devices, but IT prefers devices that meet functional requirements, and are more secure and manageable if they connect to back-end databases, data centers and servers.

Companies are also focused on budgetary implications of mobile technology. Currently, most enterprises pay for corporate laptops and some subsidize smartphones for their employees. It is unlikely they will subsidize or support yet another device (nor would IT appreciate having to support another one). 

But as the capabilities of tablets and laptops converge, how will enterprises determine what to purchase and deploy to employees? Is there a valid business case in switching from corporate-issued laptops to converged laptop/tablet devices? How do the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon or creative subsidy models that many organizations are evaluating affect that business case?

Recommendations

There will be calm after the storm, and here’s why: although it is not as simple a swap as laptops were for desktops, tablets will eventually converge with laptops.

IT should start thinking about what it will be rolling out to employees and what employees will be purchasing on their own in 2013, when the chaos may begin to subside. It may still be difficult to standardize then, given the spectrum of options—laptops, ultrabooks, hybrid PC/tablets and tablets—but options should be dictated by what works for employees aligned to what can be enterprise secured and managed.

Accenture provides four tips to help IT be more proactive in accommodating mobility:

  • Create and implement a mobile strategy

  • Make consumerization your friend

  • Shift from applications to apps

  • Establish process and organizational governance

 

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