Gartner: With ‘Personal Cloud’ Growing, IT Bosses Need To Be Prepared

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Gartner predicts that cloud personal assistants like Cortana and Siri could cause security headaches for digital managers as lines become blurred

Recent tube strikes in London seem as good a time as ever to highlight the importance of the employee ‘personal cloud’, something research firm Gartner defines as the collection of content, services and tools that employees use to work flexibly across any device.

Gartner reckons that the next wave of the personal cloud will be shaped by two key trends — increased access to personal information and increased intelligence applied to the user experience and against the user’s information.

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cloud“The rate of change is accelerating as new technologies like Windows 10, ubiquitous sensors, wearables and smart machines alter the landscape and further blur the lines between consumer and enterprise computing,” said Stephen Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner. “By 2018, 25 percent of large organisations will have an explicit strategy to make their corporate computing environment similar to a consumer computing experience.”

But IT bosses are going to encounter challenges, said Gartner, with the managers responsible for building the digital workplace possibly struggling as the personal cloud continues to evolve and intersect with IT initiatives.

“Looking forward, we see continued upheaval and challenges from the blending of personal and corporate digital tools and information within each user’s life,” said Kleynhans.

One pain point is going to the virtual private assistant (VPA), said Gartner. VPAs will increasingly become the ‘anchor point’ for users’ personal clouds and have wide access to both user and enterprise information, creating security challenges for the digital workplace boss. All three of the big smartphone vendors are developing their own VPAs with rapid pace; Google with its Google Now platform, Apple with Siri, and Microsoft with Cortana.

Gartner warns that VPAs often have access to not only personal data, but also potentially sensitive corporate data as information about meetings, employee travel and business operations may be exposed to the VPA.

Analysts also expect that VPAs will evolve to have different contexts — a personal one, a corporate one and maybe even a group or team one. This will let IT firms exercise at least some control over one context while still allowing a level of freedom to the user. Some companies will be tempted to block use or VPA access to their data. However, this will reduce a VPA’s effectiveness and probably encourage employees to bypass IT controls.

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