The Consumerization of IT in Business

Working in the IT space for the last 20 years has been an interesting experience. Not only has it been extremely fun to witness the birth of new technologies (and the evolution of existing technologies) every so often, but paying close attention to the "consumerization" of IT has been personally fascinating to me.

What does "consumerization of IT" mean and why is it important? The consumerization of IT really started in 2007 with the introduction of the first iPhone. To that point, most companies offered their employees a Blackberry device to use. When it came to checking email and text messages, this certainly got the job done, but most users didn't find great pleasure or satisfaction in using the devices. They just had to use them for business. When the iPhone was released, and more importantly, when 3rd-party apps were made available on the iPhone, users were more interested in using the device for work and pleasure.

Fast forward 8 years, and there are a whole slew of products available at extremely affordable prices that contend for use in the office. One example is video surveillance. Years ago, it wasn't uncommon for a fairly basic video surveillance system to cost a small business $10,000 or more. Today, not only can you replace that system with a series of $200 Dropcam cameras and $10/month recording service, but solutions like this offer more features than older solutions ever could. Laptops and tablets in the workplace is another great example of "consumerization of IT". It used to be that an organization's IT department would provide a standard PC laptop for each employee to use. While that's still the case in many organizations, some organizations have embraced the "BYOD" (Bring Your Own Device) mentality and are now allowing their employees to use their preferred laptop (offering to subsidize the cost).

For home use, none of these things really have much of an impact other than the cost. In business, however, allowing the consumerization of IT to happen can put your business at risk. Not just with security, but also with non-standardization of computing devices (which in the end can add cost to your bottom line). Notice how I used the word "can". This isn't a guarantee in either direction. It really depends on the organization, the willingness of the executive team and IT to support such an environment and the implementation of back-end systems to facilitate.

In my opinion, a mixed environment is a healthy environment. I have very few clients who are 100% Mac or 100% Windows. Rather, the vast majority of my clients are a mix of the two major platforms. It really comes down to what the end-user is most comfortable and productive with. After all, don't we want our employees to be as productive as possible?! I've seen environments that are stiff and rigid, which result in poor productivity. I've also seen environments that are open and flexible, which result in added creativity and a much greater sense of collaboration and cohesiveness between employees. Office space and the products that employees use to get their job done can have a HUGE positive impact on your business.

If you're looking for ways to support or encourage the consumerization of IT in your business, you need to contact me. I have a vast amount of experience in this area, and can help to make it mutual beneficial to both the organization and its employees. That's a great place to be.

Posted on April 15, 2015 and filed under Opinion.