Ben Fried (CIO, Google) : "All types of smartphones can be used by Google's employees"

Antoine Crochet-Damais on Thursday June 7, 2012 10:08:41 AM
Ben Fried (CIO, Google) :

Exclusive interview of Ben Fried, Chief Information Officer of Google.

Ben Fried is the Chief Information Officer of Google, overseeing the company's global technology systems.

Bring Your Own Device, HR or financial information systems... The CIO of Google explains his choices when it comes to the deployment of IT technology.

Chargement en cours...

The role of Ben Fried is to provide the users with the appropriate working tools, software and hardware, which is close to the traditional role of a CIO. But the major the difference lies in the extensive consideration of the "consumerization of information technology", which has brought the CIO of Google to change his approach.

"Unlike 10 years ago, when the role of a CIO was to analyze the needs of users and provide them with best solutions to their problems, my role has evolved and is now focused on encouraging users to make use of tools with which they are the most comfortable and productive with." said Ben Fried. "It represents a radical shift in employment relationship and in the practices of business users".

Chromebook, Mac, Windows PC, Linux ... Google employees can choose the type of device they want to use. The same logic applies to the choice of office automation tools. They are not limited to the use of Google Apps; it is possible to use Microsoft Office, Open Office or Apple iWork. "But still, the geographic distribution of our infrastructures creates the need for collaborative work and that's why Google Apps has been adopted by a large majority of users" stated Ben Fried.

Providing a user with a custom PC also helps in reducing the costs in terms of technical support. The user understands his working environment better than anyone else, and reacts better and faster than any help desk would. In most cases the cost involved in providing technical support is more expensive, than purchasing the equipment. Beyond these cost savings benefits, it is the increased productivity resulting from the use of a personalized computing environment which represents the main advantage of the model. It is certainly the main reason why Ben Fried is able to provide his users with high-end devices.

To optimize costs, the CIO of Google generally prefers the use of the Cloud, but in some areas such as financial management, the use of internally deployed software can't be skipped... as stated: "I did not find any external software suited to our needs in this area".

This cost saving policy allows Ben Fried and his team "to focus on innovative projects". The CIO hinted the development and implementation of an internal videoconferencing solution (based on Google App Engine). As a matter of fact, the group has deployed some 600 videoconferencing units. "We are one of the largest global users of such technology. This is the preferred means for communication between our offices around the world, numbering a hundred and spread on different continents. The in-house use of telephone is optional." stated Ben Fried. Another example is the in-house HR management software deployed by Google that takes in consideration skill and career management, and corresponding to the uniqueness of the group's corporate culture and HR processes.

All comments published in this article are from both of our exclusive interviews with Ben Fried, but also the exchange that preceded the interview.

Original document published by Antoine CROCHET-DAMAIS on
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