Gartner Inc. predicts that the importance of the personal cloud will continue to grow and that those responsible for building the digital workplace will be increasingly challenged as the personal cloud continues to evolve and intersect with IT initiatives.
"The personal cloud is the collection of content, services, and tools that users assemble to fulfill their personal digital lifestyle needs across any device. Each user's personal cloud is unique and evolving, as the user's daily needs change and as vendors and products come and go," said Stephen Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner. "Looking forward, we see continued upheaval and challenges from the blending of personal and corporate digital tools and information within each user's life."
According to Gartner, the next wave of the personal cloud will be shaped by two key trends: 1) increased access to personal information and 2) increased intelligence applied to the user experience and against the user’s information.
“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," Kleynhans said. "By 2018, 25 percent of large organizations will have an explicit strategy to make their corporate computing environment similar to a consumer computing experience."
In its report “The Evolving Role of the Personal Cloud in the Digital Workplace,” Gartner specifies three areas where the next wave of the personal cloud will influence corporate environments:
- Virtual personal assistants (VPAs) will increasingly become the anchor point for users' personal clouds and have broad access to both user and corporate data, creating potential security challenges for the digital workplace manager.
- VPAs are emerging as a critical new service that can hide the differences between multiple services and apps; in the past few years all three of the big smartphone platforms (Apple iOS, Google Android, and Microsoft Windows Phone) have added a VPA capability.
- VPAs often have access to not only personal data, but also potentially sensitive corporate information about meetings, employee travel, and business operations. Gartner says VPAs will evolve to play different roles — a personal one, a corporate one, and perhaps even a group or team one. This will enable IT organizations to exercise some control over one context while still allowing some freedom for users. Some organizations will be tempted to block use or VPA access to corporate data. However, this will reduce a VPA's effectiveness and encourage employees to bypass IT controls.
This flood of real-time data further blurs the line between work and personal, highlighting critical security and privacy issues for both users and enterprises. According to Gartner, a reliable, secure way for users to ensure the security and integrity of data within their personal clouds will be crucial going forward.
ARMA International emphasizes that it is also critical to have the right policies in place. Decisions about how people use their mobile devices and the actions they take regarding their corporate and individual information should be informed by the organization’s policies and expectations.
ARMA’s technical report Mobile Communications and Records and Information Management (ARMA TR 20-2012) provides guidance for records and information managers tackling these issues alongside their IT colleagues.