How to harness the power of consumerization

So you've said yes to the use of personal tech. How do you make it work for and in your business?

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The socially savvy business
Many employees have already mastered social media, and as business hones its skills, social media is an avenue to enhance operations and exploit new market opportunities. A 2011 McKinsey report, "How Social Technologies Are Extending the Organization," confirms increased adoption rates of social tools and technology, with 72 percent of respondents using at least one social technology tool and 40 percent reporting the use of social networking and blogs.

Measurable benefits of using social tools internally include increased access to knowledge, a reduction in communication costs, and faster access to internal experts, especially when integrated in the employee's day-to-day work. Similar results are reported among companies that reach outside of the organization to partners, suppliers, and experts.

Organizations using social networking to reach out to customers report more effective marketing, increased customer satisfaction, and reduced marketing costs. Developing communities of interest via the use of social networking is a huge potential shot in the arm to innovation for any organization that plugs in employees as well as business partners, customers, and suppliers.

But a key caveat to realizing the benefits from social media is that it doesn't happen organically. "Beyond the technology there's the functional capability of how to use it effectively to drive results," says Ryan McCune, senior director of innovation and incubation at Avanade, an IT consultancy. Perhaps the easiest and quickest social medium to start with is corporate microblogging, he notes.

Consider Needham Bank. Today, it encourages employees to use LinkedIn, low-hanging fruit to gain competitive advantage and reap immediate business value. It also uses Microsoft SharePoint's My Site feature for internal collaboration. Facebook is the next social networking frontier for the company. "We have to do it 100 percent right and manage the risk appropriately before we jump in," says business analytics director Gordon.

The greatest benefits come from apps
Consumerization's productivity advantage is ultimately about the apps: delivering the right applications and data to the right set of users and managing it accordingly -- which goes back to creation of a center of excellence to identify the applications that deliver the greatest benefit.

Many in IT are concerned about needing to gain expertise in multiple mobile and cloud platforms, but the good news about mobile apps and social cloud is that new apps can be developed quickly and at a lower cost than traditional enterprise apps. "It's easier to experiment because the focus for development is on the front end, tapping into existing enterprise apps such as CRM, ERP, and HR, for example," says PwC's Garland. At the same time, developers can fail fast while taking a smaller bite out of the R&D budget.

The bottom line is that a progressive attitude toward consumerization is good for business. So get progressive.

This story, "How to harness the power of consumerization," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile technology and consumerization at InfoWorld.com. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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