Liz Benison: Crisis Breeds Change — and Opportunity
The economic crisis gripping Europe is on the minds of our clients, and it’s affecting how they do business, what technologies they pursue and where they see themselves growing in the market. But the change brings great opportunity.
Through the innovative use of technology, companies and governments can become more competitive, help stabilize the economy and provide breeding grounds for new ideas. In the U.K., we see promising advances in the public sector, healthcare, manufacturing, financial services and transportation.
While each area has its specific innovations, there are larger trends that cut across them all — such as cloud computing and Big Data. Some of the biggest opportunities lie in local U.K. government. This market is changing fast because of the financial crisis — but it’s critical to an economic rebound.
The only way local governments can balance their books is through rapid change. The debt crisis and austerity measures are driving different buying patterns in local governments. Their propensity to take risks in some ways is increasing because they know small continual improvements won’t hack it anymore.
One area of change organizations are seeing is the “Workplace of Tomorrow” where employees demand any device, anytime, anywhere. They also want the option of buying and installing applications themselves to help be more productive. No employer should fight this. Ten years ago, the technology you had at work was superior to what you had at home. Today, that has reversed for many, and we can’t hold people back.
But we need to keep our enterprises safe and not let BYOD get out of control. We can resolve this with desktop virtualization, cloud-enabled applications, sending costs such as device warranties to original equipment manufacturers with BYOD programs, and getting out of the real estate business by allowing employees to work from home.
Uncontrolled access poses security and compliance risks — but saying no is not sufficient. We need to redefine our security policies for the world we live in. In big firms, there is still a big cultural aspect to crack as well.
Younger generations are bringing new ideas and solutions to market. Today, digital-native millennials switch their attention among media platforms such as laptops, smartphones, tablets and television more than 20 times per hour on average. This behavior is forcing companies to make applications and infrastructure agile enough to cope.
The millennials’ focus on mobility is pressuring organizations around BYOD, particularly related to network security. But it shouldn’t stop the introduction of it. The brighter CIOs know it’s not whether you do it, it’s how you do it.
What fascinates me about this topic, and where there is a generational switch, is that when my age group gets a new piece of technology we’re excited, but we generally use it for what it was designed for, according to user guides or prior knowledge. When a millennial or younger person uses a new device, they have no preconceived notions about how it should be used. They are totally unconstrained in their ideas of what the technology can do and in turn use it in new ways. We need to tap that power into our business thinking. Fresh perspective will help us unlock amazing innovation.
LIZ BENISON is vice president and general manager for CSC in the UK, Netherlands, Middle East and Africa.