By Bill Gerneglia
As the hot apps of today move onto popular consumer devices such as smart phones and tablets, the world of enterprise computing is changing as are the challenges faced by both the IT department and the C-Suite to manage these changes.
The evolution is clear; the technology focus is shifting towards collaboration tools enabling a migration from the back office applications such as accounting, process management and ERP to the front office including analytics, marketing, HR, sales and customer relationship management.
This migration is partly about how companies are deploying newer and more sophisticated technologies throughout the organization, but it's also about how the people are empowered by their devices and the apps they are acquiring and using in newer and more sophisticated ways.
The proliferation of mobile devices has caused the growing demand on organizations to secure the applications that run on them as well as the mobile data carriers to keep up with surging bandwith requirements from using the devices and apps. Just as the mobile carriers are pushed to their limits, so are corporate CIOs who in turn struggle to provide a secure infrastructure to manage what has been described as the consumerization of IT within their organization.
This trend has been driven largely by the ubiquitous use of the Internet, mobile devices, and collaborative applications, and emerging broadband technologies.
Collaborative applications within the organization provide unified communications clients that can deliver a consistent software-based user experience. These collaborative applications provide enterprise wide mobility and collaboration. Employees can work from anywhere, using virtually any device―including desktop and laptop computers, Android smartphones, Apple iPhones, Blackberrys, and Windows devices.
Increasingly, collaboration tools enable employees to connect to the right person, at the right time, in the right mode. This anywhere-anytime access to communication and collaboration tools can help enterprises lower expenses, increase productivity, enhance business continuity, and streamline customer support.
How large is the Consumerization of IT trend? According to the U.S. Census Bureau by April 1, 2012, the population of the world will stand at 7 billion.
According to research from the market research site mobiThinking, as of January 2012:
The number of cellular subscriptions worldwide was approximately 6 billion.
The number of cellular mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide was approximately 1.2 billion.
The value of venture capital investments in mobile technologies in 2011 was $6.3 billion, approximately 42% of total VC budgets.
Opportunities Arise from Consumerization
Organizations see great opportunities in moving from consumer to enterprise sales if they can embrace the needs of the consumer on their personal devices while facilitating their work responsibilities. Prudent CIOs look to embrace collaborative application solutions especially if one exists that fits their existing IT infrastructure road map.
Additionally, some CIOs see opportunities in leveraging consumer applications from their employees and bring them into the businesses fold. Embracing the mobile collaborative employee is a smart tactic because organizations are embracing the efficient ways in how they conduct their daily activities.
CIOs are starting to embrace these applications and services for the enterprise as they recognize the whole consumerization of IT has deep, profound implications. It is much more than bringing your own device to work. It is bringing your device to work and using it as a weapon or tool to become more productive at your job so you can leverage your knowledge to beat your competitors by becoming faster, cheaper, and better all while offering more quality and value.
The role of the CIO is to empower and lead the employees to use their consumer devices, but in a safe manner by minimizing both risk introduced by potential security problems. In a world where some of the more innovative technologies are evolving at the consumer level before trickling up to the enterprise, it comes as no surprise that even entry-level employees have access to powerful tools, and collaborative applications and networks in their personal lives.
What is surprising many executives in the C-Suite is how these same technologies have begun infiltrating the workplace. From employee and manager self-service portals to the growing number of social media elements in performance and learning management, the technology and collaborative applications employees expect to find in the workplace are changing.
But how will this shift in the consumerization of IT impact the way an organization recruits, engages, and manages its workforce? What opportunities and challenges does it present to the various C-Suite executives?
According to a recent survey conducted by Avanade, 73% of executives consider the consumerization of IT a top priority, and 79% will make new investments in embracing this trend in 2012. What factors are driving this?
Strategic decisions should be all about improving efficiencies, reducing redundancies and increasing productivity and revenue. An example of this is the CIO's goal of lowering annual equipment expenditures by offering allowances for employees to buy their own devices for both business and personal use.
CIOs can establish sound best practices and operating principles around providing self-service access to many internal systems. This allows for both employees and managers to work more efficiently in for a more adaptable organization regardless of size.
IT has struggled over the recent years with this loss of gatekeeper control, but the sound fiscal results continue to change the hearts and minds of the C-suite. There used to be a widely-held view that access to consumer technology (social media, the Internet, mobile collaborative applications ) will offer too many distractions, and negatively impact productivity. This is old school thinking by today's standard. The C-Suite needs to embrace the consumerization of IT trend to maximize collaboration among their employees. Then they have set up the organization with the proper corporate growth tools for success.
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