How to Integrate Consumer, Business Apps in the Workplace

1 - How to Integrate Consumer, Business Apps in the Workplace
2 - Assess Which Apps to Include
3 - Develop a Policy That Suits Your Needs
4 - Educate Everybody
5 - Standardize Your Tools
6 - Go for Open Architecture
7 - Choose All-Inclusive Apps
8 - Cross-Platform Is Essential
9 - Use the Cloud
10 - Look for Enterprise-Grade Apps
11 - Reassess Often
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How to Integrate Consumer, Business Apps in the Workplace

by Chris Preimesberger

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Assess Which Apps to Include

The introduction of consumer apps into the enterprise is something that has far-reaching impact beyond just the individual employee. Each worker may have his/her personal preferences, so departments should survey employees and determine the best fit that is specific to the business. Evaluate the "consumer" apps and get stakeholders (employees, IT, etc.) to agree on which ones should be integrated into—or excluded from—the workplace.

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Develop a Policy That Suits Your Needs

Employees and IT departments have been clashing over BYOD for years, but employees have finally broken down many of the bring-your-own barriers. That doesn't mean, however, that enterprise technology decisions should look like the Wild West. Establish clear user policies. It's up to your organization to coordinate among IT, legal, security, HR and other stakeholders to determine the risks and rewards of integrating consumer apps and devices into the business environment.

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Educate Everybody

Once your users are on board, take the time to explain to employees the reasons for the policies you've established, as well as how they should use the apps as part of the overall workflow. Make sure different organizations within the business are adopting best-of-breed tools and breaking down silos across functions, so that everyone is speaking the same language when it comes to tools. Security risks happen when employees are unaware of policies or don't understand the consequences of ignoring the rules.

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Standardize Your Tools

Mobility is all about efficiency. It's important for everyone to use the same set of apps to maximize productivity benefits. Otherwise, the silos you're trying to overcome will remain—even if they shift to different silos.

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Go for Open Architecture

Many apps are designed to integrate with other apps, solutions and software, but others are not. Proprietary apps that don't play well with others create major barriers when you need to add new features or expand usage. Some lock you into a commitment to only use apps by that provider, meaning you're at the provider's mercy when it comes to functionality and cost. To gain more control over the features you want and costs, choose apps with an open architecture that are designed to integrate with other synergistic apps.

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Choose All-Inclusive Apps

Some apps offer a broad feature set, a one-stop shop that provides a range of functionality and works across every device and every platform for one subscription price. These single-vendor solutions can make management and admin much simpler because there's only one solution to maintain and support, rather than a handful or more.

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Cross-Platform Is Essential

A BYOD environment means welcoming an incredible variety of devices and operating systems into the enterprise, so it's essential that any apps you allow work across every device, OS and platform. Otherwise, you're back to living in silos. Deploying a solution with a consistent Web, mobile and desktop interface also means that your employees can have the same user experience on any device—at work, at home or on the road—which increases adoption and reduces the learning curve.

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Use the Cloud

One of the key benefits of apps that operate in the cloud is their ability to connect or coexist with other apps or existing enterprise systems. Cloud-based apps are often more effective and efficient, in terms of functionality, and provide greater speed and performance than on-premises solutions.

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Look for Enterprise-Grade Apps

One of the main concerns when consumer apps enter the business environment is whether they can withstand enterprise demands—including performance, scale and security, the latter of which should always be a primary concern. Determine what works best to grow with your company's needs, while providing dependable performance, uptime/availability and protection for corporate data.

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Reassess Often

As your company grows, reassess your solutions regularly to ensure that employees are staying productive. Provide an opportunity for your employees to share feedback on what's working and what's not so that you can remain nimble as more new applications from home make their way to the office.

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