Rather than resist it, organizations should embrace Consumerization to unlock its business potential. This requires a strategic approach, flexible policies and appropriate security and management tools.
The Consumerization of IT is the single most influential technology trend of this decade. Companies are already well aware of it, as they wrestle with the growing influx and influence of smartphones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter and on and on. This “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement is very reminiscent of the early days of PCs in the late 1970’s-early 1980’s, when workers bought and brought their own Apple II or IBM PC to work to handle spreadsheets (using Visicalc or Lotus 1-2-3 respectively) so they could get data processed immediately rather than wait in line for the IS department to process punchcards, tapes, or whatever else the I/O was. Ultimately, IS heads had to stop resisting and start accepting the PC wave, and you know the rest of that story.
While this new BYOD growth does bring risks, too many companies make the mistake of trying to resist the influx of consumer IT. So what are the solutions and best practices for a company to turn Consumerization into a competitive advantage?
One: Have a plan. Take a strategic approach to Consumerization and develop a cross-organizational plan. IT cannot do this in a vacuum and will have to engage executives, line of business owners (marketing, sales, HR, product development) as well as customers, partners, and internal early adopters. While planning to adopt new consumer technology, IT managers should survey their most innovative users to discover what devices and applications they like and what they find most useful in their work activities. In this way IT will pull from users’ experience rather than pushing IT views to their base.
Two: Say yes – but not to everything for everyone. Develop a set of policies that clearly define what devices and applications are considered corporate-standard (fully supported by IT) vs. tolerated (jointly supported with the user) vs. deprecated (full user liability). In addition, IT should profile the global workforce based on relevant attributes such as role, line of business and location. And then map technologies to user profiles and define SLAs for each intersection.
Three: Put the right infrastructure in place. Deploy appropriate IT tools specifically designed to secure and manage consumer technology in the enterprise. Be aware that while some solutions have already materialized along the lines of specific product segments, no single vendor can provide one single solution covering all functional requirements across all platforms. As vendors enter the Consumerization space with solutions initially developed for adjacent product segments, most solutions tend to offer overlapping core functionality and tend to lack the cross-platform support critical to protect and manage the full spectrum of consumer technologies. Therefore, IT will have to integrate multiple offerings across different product categories: security solutions for Internet content security, mobile anti-malware and mobile data protection, Mobile Device Management tools for system provisioning and application management, and Telecom Expense Management providers for procurement, support and cost control of voice and data services.
In conclusion, organizations need to embrace Consumerization to unlock its business potential. This requires a strategic approach, flexible policies and appropriate security and management tools.
Have you seen this strategy working well in your company? Not at all? Let me know. Leave a comment here.