For years, IT departments have dealt with two distinct but equally difficult realities when it comes to the browser tools and habits of their customers: force everyone to use Internet Explorer for compatibility with critical software and deliver a less-than-ideal browsing experience, or let everyone use the browser of their choice and deal with spiraling IT complexity. Enter the Chrome browser for businesses, which has recently been making the rounds on Hacker News and on social media.
The Chrome browser for businesses isn’t entirely new—IT administrators will recognize that other versions have been around since 2010 or 2011—but this version does deliver more flexibility for deployment strategies and allows for protections that weren’t previously possible.
Why would a company want to move from one monolithic solution to another? Doesn’t it create some of the same issues, but with Google’s offering over Microsoft’s?
Control can be critical
By controlling certain aspects of the technology stack that employees are able to use from their computers, businesses can make strong pushes toward standardizing processes, improving efficiency, and lessening the burden on IT. Chrome for business gives administrators the ability to define more than 200 policies that help them create the perfect solution for their particular business. Need to offer a certain Chrome extension to every employee? Want to tweak some settings so that customer credit card information isn’t dumped into a logfile while a programmer is chasing down bugs? Highly configurable Group Policies help make that happen.
The ability to hold off on automatic updates will appeal to many as well, considering that Google is well known for unexpectedly removing a feature (like Flash compatibility) without delivering a new solution that works better.
For many businesses, these replace a number of policy and maintenance features that Internet Explorer and Edge have offered for a long time, opening Chrome up as a possibility for the first time.
What about efficiency? Having a browser that works across the board also means that employees can be more productive. Administrators can create default settings for every new deployment of Chrome, which eliminates the need to do so manually, and keeps employees on task, rather than spending hours of their day figuring out exactly how to set their version up so that it’s the same as the person in the next cubicle.
And to help some that legacy browser site issue—that one SaaS application that won’t work with anything but Internet Explorer—Chrome has an extension that allows for certain sites to be opened using a different browser, all from within the same Chrome window. That said, if a business is going to commit to deploying Chrome across all their employees’ computers, they might as well consider upgrading to some modern webapps, like G Suite or Office 365.
But control can get out of hand
At Bi101, we’re in the business of freeing our customers from the complexities of IT, and helping deliver them a more reasonable, more managed experience. There are plenty of ways to add on-premises capability while moving to more modern, cloud-based applications.
Businesses that dedicate time to deploying Chrome for business need to ensure they’re not simply setting up another monolithic deployment of a browser that doesn’t actually do their employees much good. Control can be great when it comes to preventing unwanted behavior or ensuring everyone is on the same page, but if an IT department or the software it deploys ever gets in the way of employee productivity, then it’s not doing it’s job.
Let’s say, for example, that a business wants to deliver Chrome for all their employees but is afraid about potential bugs in new releases. Even though the IT team is small (they’re working with Bi101 to eliminate the on-premises ERP system in favor of a SaaS version, they still want to test new versions out on test machines before deploying company-wide. But, as with many projects, things get behind, and deadlines go forgotten, and all of a sudden everyone is running a version of Chrome that’s nine months old—and one that’s missing a dozen critical security fixes that have been rolled out since.
Have you found the right balance point between IT complexity and IT efficiency? How do you encourage control without setting up roadblocks? Are you even set up to be asking these questions about your business? Perhaps it’s time to get some feedback from an outside source. And maybe it’s time to re-think how you help your employees get online and connect to the information they need.