The phrase "consumerization of IT" has been bandied about for years, and is used partly to describe the flood of computing devices originally designed for use by consumers (rather than businesses) showing up in the workplace. Smartphones and tablet PCs are the most obvious participants in this trend, but cloud offerings like Google Apps and other cloud services fit that category as well.
A few months ago we surveyed more than 2500 Windows IT Pro readers about tablet usage in the office, and more than 80% of respondents said that their office either supported the use of tablets in the office or would in the near future. While the iPad currently makes up the lion's share of tablet devices, Amazon's Kindle Fire is starting to gain traction in the consumer space, and some early signs indicate that the Kindle Fire may also be finding some success in the corporate environment as well.
The arrival of the iPad as an office device was accompanied by a flood of business-oriented apps aimed at workers trying to employ their favorite tablets as productivity tools. I blogged a bit about the surge in iPad business applications a few months ago, and the Kindle Fire is starting to see an increase in the number of business-oriented apps as well.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions provider Fiberlink recently announced that it has expanded its mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform, MaaS360, to include support for the Kindle Fire. MaaS360 provides cloud-based management of mobile devices, and adding the Kindle Fire gives workers yet another reason to bring their favorite tablet into the office.
Another app developer bringing their business wares to the Kindle is Cortado, who is now shipping their Cortado Workplace application for the Kindle Fire. Cortado Workplace provides cloud storage for mobile devices, making it easy to copy files to and from the office using online storage. I recently spoke with Cortado's President and CEO, Henning Volkmer, about their new app and the potential for the Kindle Fire to make inroads into the office.
Volkmer says that their Cortado Workplace application is being downloaded more than 20,000 times a month, and Cortado has managed to gain more than 15,000 enterprise customers. Those figures are for all versions and platforms, but it helps underscore how many mobile devices are being used as productivity tools in the enterprise these days.
"With Cortado Workplace [and more mobile devices in the workplace] we're seeing a push towards smaller workgroups, and more file and document sharing," Volkmer says. "We're also seeing an emphasis on security this year...some customers like having a single point of contact for file sharing, a gateway to the cloud that employees can go through to access their files and documents."
In addition to the Cortado Workplace cloud file sharing service, Cortado also offers Cortado Corporate Server, an on-premise solution that integrates more closely with existing internal IT infrastructure. In both cases, Volkmer says that Cortado's goal is to help employees be more productive by having access to their files and documents on the go.
What do you think about the Kindle Fire as a mobile device in the office? Add a comment to this blog post or contribute to the discussion on Twitter.