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Consumerization of IT Explained

        posted by , December 19, 2011

The year 2004 was an important milestone in the history of technology. For the first time consumers (collectively) owned more processors (computers) than industry or government. There was little fanfare or media attention – but this represents a big technology shift.

A great deal of technology research and product development is now focused on delivering devices, software and cloud services to the consumer market. Organizations are waking up to the possibility of leveraging consumer technologies for enterprise IT.

Consumerization of IT is nothing new

The consumerization of IT is nothing short of a technology revolution. It's been underway since the mid-1990s:

Organizations shifted from mainframes to server farms (and then cloud) based on consumer technologies (mostly Intel).

The commercialization of the internet in the mid-1990s led organizations to build consumer-facing web and mobile web interfaces. Instead of accessing your bank account with an ATM (enterprise technology) you can access it with your mobile phone (consumer technology).

The deployment of iPad devices by global organizations in 2010 represented the fastest enterprise adoption of a consumer technology in history.

The New Workplace

Ask any executive in your company about your IT department and they might complain that IT says "no" a lot. Common complaints include:

My laptop at home is faster than my company laptop – why can't I use it?

Why can't I install my own productivity apps?

Why is there so much red tape to request essential software installs and upgrades?

Why do we only upgrade hardware every 3 years when I upgrade my own devices every year?

Why can't we just buy that SaaS product – it can be up and running right away?

IT departments are under pressure to address these concerns. At they same time they're bogged down with legacy technology issues, security threats, data problems and compliance issues. The solution that many IT departments have found is to allow users to deploy consumer technologies without permission from IT. This may include mobile devices and productivity apps (including SaaS). This frees IT to focus on data governance, security, revenue generating activities and analytics.

The Challenge for IT

IT departments must find innovative ways to deal with risk, compliance, security and governance issues related to consumer technologies in the workplace. Generic, all-encompassing governance, data access and security solutions are required.

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