Consumerization of IT drives disruption, demands balance
By Mike Anderson
Consumerization of IT continues to be one of the top priorities confronting business and IT organizations. The promises of reducing costs, driving up productivity and improving employee satisfaction keep consumerization front and center. Not to mention that the C-level executives of the business are typically first in line for BYOD support.
However, as the phenomenon becomes pervasive, it’s important to recognize that consumerization is not just an issue for IT. Employees, technology providers and IT organizations are all facing disruptive change. It’s not all rosy for any of those groups.
For users, consumerization is a coup in terms of power and influence. After decades of having the IT infrastructure locked away, users increasingly are able to take the technology that serves them best and use it at work. However, the technology expertise is unevenly spread across different groups of people. This means that if you’re not using the newest tablets and apps or aren’t a big Facebook fan you are falling behind coworkers who are. Also, if you are one of those leveraging your personally owned devices at work, there are significant responsibilities for security and data protection that are now yours and not just those of IT.
Power is shifting with regard to technology providers. The incumbents have focused on the issues of the enterprise IT organization and deliver reliability, manageability and security. With consumers now driving top priorities, usability, features and individual value far outweigh those enterprise attributes, and new entrants tend to make new markets. This has created shifting sands that not all providers can navigate. RIM missed the importance of the consumer’s power and influence in mobile, and is now desperately scrambling to catch up to Apple and Google. Microsoft was caught off guard with regard to how quickly consumers could transition from the familiarity and application power of Windows to mobile devices built on touch, voice and microapps. Similar pressures face providers in other segments like email, file sharing and content management.
The consumerization issues for IT get lots of the press. Speed of technology change makes it impossible for IT to keep pace, so consumerization is both a threat and a benefit as it can also extend IT’s reach by leveraging user expertise, self-provisioning and self-support. One of the biggest challenges for IT is establishing a new identity that builds on its reputation for making a secure and cost-effective infrastructure with one in which the business is able to exploit the best that enterprise and consumer technology can provide.
Users have become essential in the IT decision-making process, and the consumerization influence has made technology markets unstable. IT organizations can be reinvigorated with a focus on enabling new channels for technology while providing the necessary foundation for security, business continuity, and manageability.