Consumerization of Information Technology — the Latest Wave To Manage

Consumerization of IT 0911<<excerpts from a recent presentation attached for reference>>

I am not exactly sure what the word consumerization means.  The word does not exist in either Merriam Webster, Oxford, or Cambridge dictionaries.  Yet, whenever we hear the phrase consumerization of IT we all nod our heads knowingly with vague references to the latest phones, tablets or online communications apps such as Facebook, Skype, YouTube or Salesforce chatter.   Generally, we may agree that Consumerization of IT is how all the stuff we can now do in our personal lives with technology will benefit our business environment and applications.

While Consumerization of IT is a timely trend, it is hardly a new.  Indeed, Gartner, a well regarded technology technology research organization, created quite a stir when stating that Consumerization Will Be Most Significant Trend Affecting IT During Next 10 Years — back in 2005.  Indeed, Microsoft often suggests that the entire consumerization trend started back in the early 1980’s when x86 PCs started shifting workloads from mainframe computers.

While the consumerization of IT trend is not exactly new, we are responding to an acceleration, primarily driven by new devices,  new web applications (i.e., apps) and the Cloud available on demand and greatly impacting how and with whom we connect, how we may communicate (text, phone, email, sype, etc.)  and consume information (aps, web based applications, etc.).  Today, there is interest in these benefits, many (including me) believing the likely source for productivity enhancements which are sorely needed in today’s business environment.

While exciting, for business enterprises, the challenge just got alot bigger and complicated for IT infrastructure management and evolutionary for the application development (i.e., next generation app dev here we come).

For IT infrastructure management, you have many more devices and headaches…

  • Bigger — it used to be 1 PC per user; now you have PC, phone, tablet and remote access points
  • Complicated — information leakage, device loss, theft, compliance rules, IP protection, malware apps to name a few

While there is no one size fits all approach for enterprise businesses,  most firms are managing infrastructure in light of consumerization trends via a combination of  holding the consumerization trend at bay and setting policy in place to manage.  Trying to hold back an accelerating trend is not exactly a sustainable approach; the visual image for me is firehoses and very small wooden buckets.   Policy — both compliance and enterprise information management provides a longer standing approach (i.e., who gets access to what information on what devices and in which locations); if you are familiar with IT infrastructure, think of this as your next generation directory services; if you are a document management pro, think of this as an extension of document lifecycle management to embrace accessibility from people, locations and devices.

For application development, expectations are emerging for consumption of software and incremental software updates on-demand, much the way we do in a consumer app market today and drastically more agile from the plan development test deploy /rollout schedules we built into 5 year planning cycles.

To thrive in the next wave, enterprise businesses will require building skills in areas such as access, security, app development and enterprise life-cycle management; making this transition in an era of limiting IT budgets and headcount will require many firms to consider outsourcing IT activities to providers offering lowering costs via software as a service models.

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