Latin American companies still conservative in new technologies - Unisys

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Companies in Latin America are still very conservative in using new technologies, which has caught them off guard when it comes to dealing with the fast and increasing adoption of consumer technologies and applications in the workplace, US IT company Unisys' (NYSE: UIS) VP and general manager for Latin America, Central and South America (Lacsa), Yolanda Auza, told BNamericas.

"In the case of Chile, we have even seen bank employees who still prefer traditional transactions instead of the mobile applications the bank is offering," Auza said.

Workers are increasingly investing their own resources to buy, learn and use consumer technologies and application tools in the workplace, but a study for Unisys conducted by IDC confirmed that companies are not ready to support them.

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Security risks, management issues, and policy and governance implications have prevented companies from harnessing this increasing trend, though some organizations are starting to see its value.

"Companies are not prepared - with respect to policies, support, security or human resources - to interact and deal with the increased use of consumer technologies and applications in the workplace," Auza said.

According to the study, there is a gap between the activities and expectations of tech-savvy workers and their employers' readiness to manage, secure and support these activities. In addition, the gap has increased compared to last year due to the fast adoption of internet and technologies in the consumer segment.

More and more workers are using widely available tools and applications such as social networks, instant messaging, smartphones, laptops and tablets at home and at work, sometimes with a very blurred line between both worlds.

While workers feel more productive and confident with these tools - being able to stay informed and connected anytime and anywhere - employers still see many of these applications and devices as negative factors for productivity and security risks.

Companies continue operating with standardized and controlled IT models to manage risks and costs, with use and security policies applicable only to the equipment they provide.

BlackBerrys remain one of the devices more commonly supported by companies, unlike Android-based devices and tablets, which are currently gaining market share.

And regarding vertical markets, organizations from the telecommunications and banking sector seem to be more advanced in IT consumerization.

To harness the benefits of IT consumerization - such as organizational flexibility, a more engaged and productive workforce, and even cost cutting - organizations need to modernize their IT environments, securing critical data and assets against hackers, viruses, identity theft and other IT threats.


"We found some differences in the responses obtained this year compared to last - mainly age differences more than geographical," Auza said.

"Fears appear to be generational. The approach of a 20-25-year-old person is different from that of a 50-year-old.... It's an issue that goes beyond technology."

Traditional desktops, the main tool used at work, have also been losing ground to tablets compared to last year, a trend that is expected to continue as the offer of tablets increases.

"Perhaps companies don't need to invest on their own to support this; it's something that can be outsourced. In addition, it's important to define what will be supported and how, instead of trying to cover everything," Auza said.


About 40% of devices used to access business applications were acquired by workers with their own resources, up 10 percentage points compared to last year.

The use of social networks, blogs and microblogs for business purposes has also increased, more than doubling to 20% in the case of Facebook and MySpace, from 8% in 2010.

When asked about the barriers for using mobile devices in the workplace, 83% of IT executives cited security.

Overall, 70% of the surveyed IT executives thought their organizations were behind or late adopters of new technologies.

The Unisys Consumerization Benchmark study is based on two separate but linked surveys conducted by IDC, involving consumers and businesses in nine countries - Brazil, the US, the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand.