Game on: The consumerization of IT

InfoWorld's new channel will examine the collision of personal and business technology -- and what that mashup will mean to you

InfoWorld has just launched a new Consumerization of IT channel, where you'll find all articles relating to this prevailing trend plus Galen Gruman's insightful new blog on the topic, Smart User, which has already featured such instructive and entertaining posts as "How to thwart the high priests of IT."

Why do we think the consumerization of IT is worth its own channel? Mainly because the last time the industry saw a shift this profound was in the early 1980s, at the start of the PC era. Then as now, business users felt they couldn't get what they needed from IT and took technology into their own hands. But back then, those insurgents were armed with primitive, expensive desktops. Today, users are commandeering a host of low-cost, powerful consumer technologies for business purposes.

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You know the usual roster of these consumer technologies: mobile devices, mobile apps, social networking sites, and cloud services. Of these, I find cloud services to be the most compelling. Yes, the ability to work anywhere using tablets or smartphones is transformational. So, increasingly, will be the rise of location-aware mobile applications. But to me, the real paradigm shift is that the center of users' computing life and identity has already risen halfway to the cloud.

I recently summed up the state of the enterprise cloud, which is mainly about IT efficiency and agility. But the personal cloud revolves around such services as Apple's iCloud, which evokes "a cloud-enabled fabric of user activities spread across devices and applications," as Galen Gruman put it in InfoWorld's November roundup of the top 10 emerging enterprise technologies. If the comsumerization of IT is all about recalibrating computing to put users in control, then each user's bastion will be his or her personal cloud of data, applications, and configurations -- independent of any single device.

The exciting thing is that no one knows how personal and professional clouds will overlap. The idea of separate "personal" and "business" mobile devices has already fallen by the wayside. With the personal vs. professional clouds, it's tougher. The security implications of merging personal and professional cloud identity alone are mind boggling.

The challenges posed by consumerization will provide lots of raw material for ongoing coverage. So will the opportunities -- for narrowing the gulf between IT and business, for providing self-service solutions that both offload IT and make users happy, and for business process improvements no one has thought of yet. We hope you enjoy InfoWorld's ongoing coverage.   

This article, "Open for biz: The consumerization of IT," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog, and for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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