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Consumerization of IT & What Enterprise Should Anticipate

By Denny Charlie, EVP and CIO Soho Global Health


Denny Charlie, EVP and CIO Soho Global Health

Despite all the hype, the Consumerization of IT is legitimately going to be a huge deal and it's something that should be a priority for CIOs over the next few years.  So far it seems that when most people talk about the consumerization of IT, what they're really talking about is BYOC/BYOD. In other words, many CIOs' "consumerization" initiatives are really BYOC/BYOD initiatives, but while enabling BYOC/BYOD is a nice, the reality is that the IT industry already knows how to solve that problem.  "The Consumerization of IT" is bigger than this context.  The consumerization of IT is about the fact that today's users can do whatever they want, and IT can't stop them even if IT wanted to. We see that the mobile apps used by consumers are undergoing an extraordinary growth.  Consumers are also no longer strangers to sophisticated software. In fact, consumers lead the way in uncompromisingly  selecting applications that meet their needs.

In a simple term, The “Consumerization of IT” can be defined as the use of technologies that can be provisioned by non-technologists.  There has been a fundamental shift from today’s consumerization of IT trend in the relationship between employers and employees—especially professionals—that began few decades ago. This shift has only now worked its way into the world of enterprise technology. Employees’ demand to use their personally preferred mobile devices, personal computers, applications, social media, and cloud services represents a transformation in the relationship between the typical IT organization and the business as a whole. The conventional, 9 to 5, five-day work week is a thing of the past for the overwhelming majority of workers at small to mid-sized businesses, according to a new survey on work-related email habits. Due to the widespread availability and use of smartphones and tablets, e-mail  has become more accessible than ever and, as a result, it has become deeply embedded in the daily workplace and personal lives of most employees. The independent, blind survey of 503 employees in workplaces in the U.S. was conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of GFI Software. The results highlight employee habits around email usage, including response frequency during the workday as well as after hours.

" The conventional, 9 to 5, five-day work week is a thing of the past for the overwhelming majority of workers at small to mid-sized businesses, according to a new survey on work-related email habits."

Employees nowadays are more familiar with a wider range of technology than technology managers often give them credit. It’s true that some employees don’t care about the technology they use; IT can provision these employees as before. But the ones who view technology as an extension of themselves will use their preferred technologies regardless of rules and guidelines to the contrary. CIOs need to engage with them rather than have them fired or held to account, because they’re the same forward-thinkers who are likely to identify emerging business opportunities for the enterprise.  The CIO’s challenge is to facilitate and to accommodate this new paradigm strategically while still having proper control.

The approach can be elaborated as follows:

1. Opportunity for better results through the requests for support of personal or departmental technology
The IT organization should help users determine whether  their decisions truly solves a problem. How a technology they want will help them and how their technology choice would change things, as well as whether our current IT organization has the skills to support, the technologies and processes that IT consumerization requires. The enterprise IT team must have at least a working knowledge of these technologies to ensure they can be integrated into the enterprise environment.

2. Shared Ownership Concept
In essence, through the shared ownership model, IT gets access to and appropriate control over the device to manage corporate applications and data, and the user gets control and rights to the device to install personal applications and access personal communications.  Thus reinforcing the responsibility that the user or department assumes when it chooses technology, encouraging good behavior.

3. Information Systems as a Layered Cake
To view technology as a layered cake, with each layer managed and controlled the same way, is folly. For the same reason, policies are the key to effective technology usage, allowing IT to manage the various devices, applications, and data across the many layers of the technology. Some require more control or security than others. Policies based on role, information type, and other key factors let IT ensure security and execute compliance across technologies commensurate with the risk for each factor.

4. Flexible Control
Dealing with empowered individuals and co-ownership of technology processes likely sounds very messy to many CIOs, especially those who have been focused on operational efficiency, repeatable processes, and control-oriented compliance and security. The key is to control the assets that are worthwhile controlling or are legally required to be controlled.   

5.Potential collaboration to innovate business processes
Understanding the employees’ need and demands to make them more productive over time also lead us to potential collaboration with other business like travelling agents, transportation companies, restaurant reservation app etc.  Hence employee travel request and claim process will be done efficiently through the integration using a single access from employee mobile app. If the model is replicated to other enterprises which can adopt the same, then integration cost can be shared economically.

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