'I don't let them demo on Mac or PC anymore' - CAA CIO explains his 'mobile first' mindset

By Danny Palmer
06 May 2014 View Comments

Talent representative organisation Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has adopted a "mobile first" strategy to enable its agents to provide better services to the firm's celebrity clients, who include Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Star Wars Episode 7 director JJ Abrams.

The company is able to enact this policy partially thanks to an increased use of cloud-based services in recent years - something that is enabling CAA to shut almost all its data centres - including those offered by platform-as-a-service solutions provider ServiceNow.

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Speaking to Computing at ServiceNow's Knowledge 14 conference in San Francisco, CAA CIO Michael Keithley explained how he encourages staff not to use traditional devices, something he demonstrated by showing an image of ServiceNow tools running in a Tesla car.

"That's one of the platforms I allow people in the company to demo products on; they can do it on their smartphone, their tablet or they can do it on a Tesla," he said. "I don't let them do it on a Mac or PC anymore, we're really trying to drive a mobile first mindset because it was too easy for project leaders or developers to have mobile as an afterthought."

Keithley described the policy as "really cool" for CAA, allowing the talent agency to innovate by "mashing up" enterprise ideas with consumer technology, with one example being CAA's use of QR codes to deploy and share assets. The CAA CIO - who has served in the role for 23 years - argued that deploying the strategy has made agents more effective at their jobs.

"That's the bottom line, that's my job, to make agents more productive in order to serve their clients better."

It wasn't always this way, however, and as Keithley pointed out, the organisation used to be much stricter on the types of devices employees could and couldn't use, a policy that has now been changed to give staff a bigger choice of tools.

"Several years ago we, like many other businesses, provided the standard Dell desktop and company-issued BlackBerry, but we've now evolved to a BYOD of everything. I support BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android, iPhones, iPads, Windows tablets, Mac, PC, whatever," he explained, adding that the change has partly occurred because of the flexibility offered by cloud software.

"Part of the thing that allowed that to happen was moving into the cloud because now I'm not tied to the actual operating of the device. It makes it harder for IT, to have multiple things to manage, but that's the future, that's where the world's going. The excitement isn't on the desktop, it's on mobile devices," he said.

When asked which types of device staff were using, Keithley told Computing that iPhones were by far the most popular smartphones.

"Apple devices are still the largest in the phone space. We're starting to see Android, but there's very few BlackBerry device and very few Windows phones."

Keithley said iPhones are popular with staff for two main reasons: they find them easy to use, and they're cool, "and in Hollywood being cool counts", he said.

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