IT Leaders – Get ‘With it’ or Get Out of the Way!


This short post was inspired by Dion Hinchcliffe‘s recent post on the Consumerization of tech: The new enterprise disruptor.

Dion notes:

One trend has emerged with clarity from the discussions this year about the tidal wave of consumer tech moving into the enterprise: It’s profoundly reshaping the IT landscape in most organizations. Just a year ago, Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) was barely on the strategic radar, yet a recent CDW survey of the federal government shows that as of last month, nearly half (44%) of federal employees now use a personal device for work purposes and that 62% of agencies now permit the use of worker provided devices.”

I’m not totally sure I believe the numbers – they seem somewhat aggressive to me given the typically conservative nature of federal government.  But Dion goes on to note:

Though data are still emerging about the trend in all industries, the early numbers in the private sector are even more dramatic, with a new report from Harris Interactive claiming that 81% of firms have already adopted some form of BYOD policy.”

Again, the numbers seem way aggressive per my conversations with IT leaders in the US, but the direction is clear.  And the movement now has its own acronym – BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices)!

A Compelling Argument…

This was the paragraph that most caught my eye:

This new mindset around IT is one where users tend to lead the IT charge. Not always, but increasingly so. They have frequently occurring technology needs on the ground. They also have the resources, time, and urgency to find the technology, or least more than the IT department does. So part of the consumerization story is a pull model of easy-to-access IT. Most of the time, it’s what they find in their browsers or app stores and on the shelf at their local mobile store or online electronics retailer.”

Bingo! The need is with the users. The funding is with the users. The resources are with the users. The urgency is felt by the users! So where is IT in all of this?

IT – The Protectors!

In spite of the rosy data Dion cites, I’m mostly seeing IT leadership either in denial (“This too shall pass!”) or anxiously assessing all possible risks and how to mitigate them.  Clearly, there are all sorts of risks – some of which we have yet to fully understand.  Infoworld’s recent BYOD: A world of pain awaits IT (subtitled: “Seasoned IT pros discuss the slings and arrows IT must endure to embrace bring-your-own-device policies”) lays out a litany of risks facing those who adopt BYOD policies.

The Real IT Choice

I believe the Consumerization of IT should be seen for what it is – a game changer for the world of corporate IT organizations.  One that will shape the future role of corporate IT and the future roles of IT professionals.  One that will unleash the creative power of IT in ways not previously seen, and that will have significant upside economic implications. This blog is titled “IT Organization Circa 2017″. That is 5 years away. I think those 5 years will see a massive shift in the center of mass of enterprise computing. Corporate IT can lead that shift – and stay relevant. Or they can study every nuance of every risk and put up barriers to change.  The change will happen anyway, and they will become all but irrelevant.

 

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