Defining how work gets done today calls to mind a stream of abbreviations and acronyms, including BYOD (bring your own device), SaaS (software as a service), and AI/ML (artificial intelligence and machine learning). This alphabet soup of trends and technologies is helping to shape new hybrid workplace models, giving employees more flexibility and helping them to be more productive from any location.
However, these evolving approaches and emerging technologies also present new challenges for IT teams tasked with managing an increasingly complex technology stack. Multiple types of devices and operating systems deployed throughout the enterprise inhibit visibility into security policy compliance. Also, the proliferation of web apps can make it difficult to consistently manage access and browser policies.
The browser itself has rapidly become the de facto workspace. Once seen as little more than a utility for accessing the Internet, the browser is now a centerpiece of activity for knowledge workers using cloud-based work apps. These individuals spend at least 70% of the workday across their web browser and virtual meetings, according to a study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Google.
IT teams are considering this trend in the context of the broader transition organizations are making to support new – and still evolving – hybrid work models.
“A lot of companies are still working through what their infrastructure of the future will look like with a workforce that is more distributed,” says Lorena Crowley, Head of Chrome Enterprise Marketing at Google. “They need to be much more thoughtful about securing and managing browsers and applications, simply because of the sheer amount of time being spent in those environments. They have to decide what the best path forward is while at the same time keeping the business running and keeping their business users productive.”
CIO’s John Gallant discusses a critical component of any employee device policy.
BYOD steps into the spotlight
How do IT leaders balance the needs of the evolving workforce while maintaining IT governance and robust security? The enterprise browser plays a significant role in balancing these sometimes-conflicting objectives.
“We've reached a tipping point where IT and security teams need to make sure they're managing the browser environment with the right types of policies for different user groups, and that they have visibility and insights into what's happening in the environment,” says Crowley. “That will help them understand what they can be doing to better improve both user productivity and the security posture of their business.”
Chrome Enterprise helps organizations balance these needs down to the employee and device level, as well as across teams and departments, allowing IT teams to quickly gain visibility into BYOD policies and configurations.
“Browser policies for both managed and unmanaged devices can be configured centrally for all operating systems, even on different platforms,” says Anuj Goyal, Product Manager, Chrome Enterprise.
Chrome Enterprise also can aggregate policy data across BYOD and SaaS apps, allowing IT administrators to obtain information on configurations for things like extensions and security events. By centralizing this information, including how and from where apps are being used, admins now get a holistic view of their browser fleet, Goyal says.
Productivity and protection
The cloud plays a critical role in digital business
of IT decision makers agree that their organization has accelerated its migration to the cloud over the past 12 months
agree that their organization defaults to cloud-based services when upgrading or purchasing new technical capabilities
agree that cloud capabilities helped their organization achieve increased and sustainable revenue over the past 12 months
Source: Foundry Cloud Computing Study, 2022
This functionality means that IT teams can centrally manage policies and access without causing employees and contractors to jump through multiple authentication hoops or be restricted from accessing the apps or information they need to get their work done. At the same time, IT can ensure that cloud applications are secure by default.
“No one wants to be blocked from using a particular extension or accessing a certain website,” says Crowley. “The browser offers a unique point to balance productivity and security.”
Modern browser management also protects worker privacy by allowing IT teams to only manage and collect data from work profiles. This capability is especially important when working with partners who serve multiple clients and need to keep information from commingling, while still allowing those partners to access apps and systems from their browser.
Separating work and personal profiles can also help employees protect their own privacy. “It's interesting what employees will browse to when they don’t realize they're on their work profile,” says Goyal. “We're looking at ways to make those profile settings much more visible in the toolbar.”
What’s the one move CIOs need to make to properly balance productivity and protection?
Finding the sweet spot
Organizations that are redesigning their businesses and work models around cloud-based platforms, services, and applications are gaining access to advanced functionality and expertise. Rapid development and deployment of technologies such as AI/ML by Google and others deliver downstream benefits to customers through service providers’ commitment to continuous innovation.
Organizations are already seeing the benefits of AI/ML across multiple use cases. These technologies are being used to mitigate mundane or repetitive tasks on both operational and individual levels. They’re helping workers to unlock efficiencies, nurture creativity, and increase productivity.
As AI/ML technologies mature, they will provide additional benefits for both IT teams and end users. “There is lots of opportunity for AI within the browser,” Crowley says. “It's a very natural pairing. We're actively looking at how to deliver more helpful experiences for specific business workflows.”
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Top technologies being researched or piloted
Generative AI, the much-hyped technology that can be used to generate a variety of data types, also will play a role in browser-based work models. “We're working closely with Google’s Generative AI teams to find ways to make those capabilities more accessible from the browser, where people are already working,” says Crowley.
Organizations’ top emerging technology investments
As the pace of innovation increases, organizations are looking to evolve their security strategies to keep up. For example, zero trust security frameworks embrace a context-based approach, which makes it easier to balance user needs with strong governance in a workplace that relies more heavily on cloud-based apps.
“The browser has become a more important component of zero trust strategies, because it’s a foundational piece of information access,” says Crowley. “You can apply access rules to SaaS-based apps or company data hosted in the cloud, which provides a seamless implementation experience for IT and security teams as well as a smooth, safe browsing experience for users.”
A portal to the future
AI and machine learning can accelerate future innovation – if you prepare now.
Driving productivity, securely with Chrome Enterprise
The hybrid workplace and the expanding IT landscape require fresh approaches to balance productive employee experiences with the ease of IT management and security.
“Today’s enterprise technology stack relies on a whole ecosystem of different solutions working together, and the browser is key to this foundation,” Crowley says. “Organizations can get a lot more value from connecting the browser into other pieces of their tech stack.”
See how to keep your workforce productive and safe with
Google Chrome Enterprise
More on this topic:
• How do you match up with today’s modern CIOs? Take the quiz.
• In the web-based world of work, the enterprise browser takes on increased importance for IT management and employee experience. Learn more.
IT teams want to reduce complexity and protect data and systems. Employees want more say over their devices and apps.
How do you find the sweet spot?
Source: Foundry Digital Business Study, 2023
Source: Foundry Digital Business Study, 2023
of organizations with 1,000 or more employees
of organizations with less than 1,000 employees allow BYOD access.
1. Access is only allowed through a controllable browser
2. Access is only allowed to a subset of online applications
3. End-user’s identity has been validated via MFA
Top BYOD policies in use:
Source: “IDC Survey Spotlight,” IDC, February 2023, Doc # US50160323, https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=US50160323
Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine learning (ML)
Internet of Things (IoT)
Business process management
Augmented reality (AR)/Virtual reality (VR)
Application performance monitoring technology (APM)
On my radar or actively researching
Piloting new initiatives
In production in a business unit or division
In production enterprise wide