SAP CIO at Consumer Electronics Show

Feature Article | January 20, 2012 by Perry Manross

Each year the Consumer Electronics Association holds one of the largest tradeshows in the world in Las Vegas Nevada, where visitors goggle at the latest gadgets – from the practical, like touch screen thermostats and super sharp OLED TVs, to the puzzling, like dancing-cat speakers and “iBallz.”

This year, however, a new kind of attendee was present along with the thousands of technophiles – the CIO from an enterprise applications company. SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann not only dropped in on the action, but also led an expert panel entitled, “The Consumerization of IT.” Here he joined Shadman Zafar, SVP of Rapid Product Development at Verizon; Chris Fleck, VP of Mobility Solutions at Citrix; and Gregg Fiddes, SVP Sales and Business Development at Quickoffice. The discussion revolved around how the boundaries between consumer and enterprise technologies are blurring and in some cases are no longer existent.

In an interview, Bussmann shared some of the highlights from the panel, including how employees in today’s companies have experienced using state-of-the-art consumer devices, and how they want to have the same user experience within the enterprise.

There are essentially two choices companies have in response to this trend, Bussmann says: “You can either try to block the use of certain devices for work purposes, which people will bypass anyway. Or the CIO can embrace this trend and lead with these consumer devices.”

This is how SAP has approached and even facilitated the consumerization of IT. With 8,000 smartphones and 14,000 tablets in active use at the company for demos, development, and more, Bussmann says, “Just try to take these devices from our employees.”

And the technology is always advancing. More tablets and more smartphones with new features like usable voice recognition and kinetic functions will continue to flood the market. Businesses will want to cater to these new devices not simply because employees demand it, but because it makes business sense.

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