Five Forces Driving Consumerization of IT

New York Times writer David Pogue speaking at AIIM 2012 in San Francisco this week.

By now, we’ve all heard of the Consumerization of IT, the trend that is bringing consumer tools and devices into the work place. This past week, I attended the AIIM 2012 conference in San Francisco where I saw signs of that consumerization all around me.

Apple, a dominant driver of consumerization, was well represented, with iPad as Exhibit 1 and iPhone as Exhibit 2 and a healthy dose of Mac Book Airs and Mac Book Pros to go with them. Perhaps this said more about the audience at this conference than any broad trends, but I don’t think so.

It was about ease of use and Apple is now at the forefront of these devices

Yet mobile is only one factor driving the consumerization you see all around you. There are other factors at play as well, none of which are likely to surprise you, but when seen together show all of the elements that have changed the way IT operates in in a lot of organizations in a very profound way.

R Ray Wang, CEO and analyst at Constellation Research, spoke on Thursday about these trends. Poor Mr. Wang had the misfortune of following the very entertaining David Pogue, the amusing gadget reporter for the New York Times, who literally sang for the audience.

But while Pogue was fun and pointed out the impact of the iPhone (and smart phones in general) have had on all of us, it was Wang who came on stage after him and put consumerization into context and helped us understand why it’s happening.

For Wang, it was about every buzz word, we’ve been hearing about over the last several years including mobile, social ¬†and cloud computing of course, but also Big Data and video and unified communications, which we’ve been hearing about to a lesser degree.

If for some reason you doubt the impact of mobile, consider that according to Wang, by 2013 half of all phones will be smart phones. Mobile has become so important in fact, that Wang indicated that one his clients (whom he didn’t want to name) was giving up all of their land lines in favor of a fully mobile workforce.

When users run into a road block at work, they tend to head to the cloud. The Exchange Server is down? No problem, I’ll use Gmail. Email policy doesn’t allow an attachment over 2 GB. No problem, I’ll use You Send It, Dropbox or Box.

And these cloud applications link together with mobile giving users access to their content and tools wherever they are, regardless of the device they are using.

Social links to all of this too. According to Wang, “Social is our ability to transcend space and time to connect with each other.”

As users turn to the cloud, social and mobile it provides a means not only making content portable and easy to use and access, it also generates all kinds of new data, and making sense of this data is where Big Data comes to play.

As Wang points out, all of this data can turn into content, but it needs to have context to have meaning. He says, “It’s not about real time. It’s about right time. And that means getting information to you when it’s contextually important.”

And video and unified communications helps users provide context and lets them share this information with one another and the outside world.

And it’s all of these factors that are changing your role in the organization. The extent to which this change is happening varies across organizations and industries of course — one woman I met in the energy industry told me none of this was happening at her rather conservative company — but it’s happening often outside of IT’s purview.

That’s why it’s so important that as IT pros you understand how these trends are affecting your organization so you can be in a better position to help your business move forward.

Photo by Ron Miller. Used under Creative Commons Share Alike/Attribution License.

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