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A trying 12 months for Europe has proved a painful eye-opener for many nations, but with lessons learnt, 2011 promises to be better for all.

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Spencer Green
Chairman, GDS International

Sales and the 'Talent Magnet'

A lot is written about being a ‘Talent Magnet’, either as a company, or as President. It’s all good practice – listen, mentor, reward, provide clear goals and career maps. Good practice for the employer, but what about the employee?
25 May 2011

How will consumer IT impact your business?

12 May 2010

B ack in 2005, the analyst house Gartner predicted that consumer technology would have a huge impact on enterprise IT over the next 10 years. With many office staff now clutching an iPhone or BlackBerry, and desperate to get their hands on an iPad, it looks like they got it right. Yet despite this, some CIOs are still not convinced that technology designed primarily for the consumer market has a place in the enterprise.

ipad Some CIOs are embracing these new technologies. Demand for tablet PCs by business users has skyrocketed in the last few months. Intel recently credited its better-than-expected financial results, in part, to sales of netbooks to business customers in the fourth quarter of 2009. This combined with the widespread uptake of consumer technologies, such as Instant Messaging and VoIP in the workplace, shows the clear trend in technology adoption that is continuing to grow.

However, there's still some resistance to this new generation of IT entering the workplace. Even though most CIOs are using smartphones and netbooks on a daily basis, comparatively few have given company-wide rollouts the go ahead, because of concerns about security and bandwidth. Yet recent advances in technology mean that many of these fears can now be swept away.

To keep ahead of your competitors, it's important that your employees have the best tools at their fingertips. Providing staff with access to new, faster and more flexible ways of interacting with customers, partners and suppliers really can make the difference between winning new business and coming a close second. That said, you don't always need to spend thousands on a HD videoconferencing suite to up your game. Simply giving staff access to web conferencing facilities could be a cost effective alternative, appropriate for many circumstances. This could turn remote working colleagues into a fully engaged team, able to collaborate and innovate in real time, even if they're at opposite ends of the country.

In many cases you might not need to spend anything at all. Developing a usage policy that clearly outlines how workers can use social networks at work, for example, could help staff to understand what is and isn't acceptable. Once the ground rules have been set, businesses are free to fully embrace new technologies and enjoy all of the benefits that they offer. In the case of social networking sites, this might mean using Twitter to recruit new employees or monitoring blogs and message boards for mentions of your company by customers. Consumeration of IT

That's not to say that you should jump the gun and give a company-wide rollout the go ahead straightaway. It's a good idea to run a trial or partial rollout first. This will allow you to tweak your existing infrastructure and examine how things work in a secure environment.

At the end of the day if you want to drive innovation within your business, you'll always have to take some risks. But by taking the right precautions and putting the right policies in place, you can ensure that the risks that you are taking are calculated and positively impact the business.

About the author: Andrew McGrath is the commercial director at Virgin Media Business. He is responsible for strategy, marketing, business transformation and technical/commercial support. Andrew contributes regularly to the Virgin Media Business blog .