June 09, 2012, 7:11 AM — You've probably seen the phrase "the consumerization of IT" bandied about. What does it mean? According to Microsoft, it's a blurring of the lines between people's personal and professional lives, driven by their desire to use the same technology at work as they use at home.
For IT managers, the phrase conjures up images of consumer smartphones and tablets--and the growing BYOD (bring your own device) movement--but it's apropos for software, too. In this article I'll examine four consumer-grade applications and show you how they can improve your professional life.
TripIt is a fabulous and free personal travel-management tool that can easily adapt to the needs of small businesses. If you or your employees regularly travel for business, this tool can help you monitor where everyone is going, track how long they'll be out of the office, and manage the reservations-related minutiae that crop up with even the shortest of trips.
How does it work? First, set up a free account on TripIt. Next, assign someone to create a group for your company that will enable your employees to share their travel details. Once TripIt approves your request, ask all of the traveling employees in your organization to create their own accounts and sign up for the group. Congratulations: You're all connected.
One of TripIt's greatest features is its ability to scan a user's email inbox and automatically fill in itineraries for trips in the making. It's a far more elegant approach than having travelers comb through their email and fill out, say, an internal company spreadsheet listing arrival times, confirmation numbers, party sizes, and so on.