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What Is Really Driving the Consumerization of IT?

It's the consumers, right?

We hear all the time about the consumerization of IT. It almost gets as much prime headline real estate as big data, but now that we’ve all started accepting that consumerization is here—what are we going to do with it?

Hopefully your answer revolves around expanding and growing your business, because that’s what you should be doing, and what those who truly understand consumerization are already seeing within their own enterprises.

While it’s been nice to believe that we employees and end-users of enterprise software are the force behind consumerization (we are, after all, the consumers mentioned in the phrase,) InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman points out that “business itself has driven the shift to employee-directed tech.” In other words, our smartphones and tablets that we all refused to leave home certainly played a role in consumerization, but the increased productivity and business growth that can be achieved by embracing this shift ultimately led to the decision to embrace such a trend.

On top of the business than can be gained through IT consumerization, Galen points out all that can be lost:

The more you try to control employee-oriented technology, the more it costs you and the less safe you are…. When you rigidly control the technology and processes of knowledge workers, they actively work around you—and against you.

In the early days of consumerization, IT departments fretted at the thought of all the new security holes, policies, and data loss that they would be responsible for, should their organization allow it. But Galen also notes that employees should share the responsibility for the security of the devices they clamored for, or in many cases, simply began using without any approval by IT. Galen uses a parent/teen analogy to describe the new relationship between IT and fellow employees:

…The safest, cheapest approach is the "wise parent" approach: Use a mix of policies, incentives, and education to help your teen become a self-sufficient adult. The incentive is the right to use a device of their own choosing; the policies channel that use in safe ways, and education helps both reduce resistance to some burdensome but truly necessary policies and increase self-vigilance by the employee…

In a recent interview with Madrona Ventures’ Matt McIlwain, Matt discussed the idea behind the empowered enterprise 2.0, how it’s defined, and how it came to be. Like Galen, Matt made sure to point out that it’s not just about empowerment; accountability is also a major factor for consumerization and BYOD to provide value. Matt remarked that employees lucky enough to be a part of the empowered enterprise 2.0 should be saying to themselves:

Hey, okay I got the freedom. I got to go do the things I wanted to do, but what did I deliver as a result?” Whether I’m a team, part of a team that’s going to deliver a next generation product or I’m part of a business team that because I got to pick my apps, I was expected to deliver a better marketing solution, or a better sales solution or whatever it might be within my organization.

As enterprise IT consumerization grows, remember that had an immense business value not been found within the trend, especially coming from happier and more productive employees, the rate of consumerization’s growth would be far slower, if noticeable at all.

More Stories By Noel Wurst

I am the managing content editor for at Skytap. Skytap provides SaaS-based dev/test environments to the enterprise. Our solution removes the inefficiencies and constraints that companies have within their software development lifecycle. As a result, our customers release better software faster. My aim is to publish engaging, thought provoking stories that revolve around agile enterprise applications and cloud-based development and testing.