I believe Blake has demonstrated that the "consumerization of IT" is ultimately a positive trend for corporations. It may involve painful changes in the status quo of corporate IT, including, as Blake said, how IT groups have to "shed our arrogance" to give the underlying technology a chance to succeed. But this trend provides the business, the entire company, and even the whole economy with an improvement in efficiency, productivity, and profit.
The upside to IT of the "consumerization of IT' trend
So how long has this consumerization trend been going on? Is the iPad acting as a catalyst, or has the trend been persisting for a while?
Scot Finnie, the editor-in-chief of Computerworld, believes that consumerization has been happening for a long time. He says, "The rise of consumerization of IT has become highly visible over the past several years. The immediate causes of the trend include the prevalence of powerful and versatile smartphones and tablets, the popularity of simple and useful mobile apps, and the recession, which has driven the need for greater levels of productivity and effectively longer workdays.
"Even so," Finnie continues, "the consumerization of IT has been evident for 20 years, beginning with the advent of the personal computer. Microsoft, for example, rose to dominance in the early 1990s in part on its intense focus on the end-user usability of its operating systems and applications. Apple, of course, has been a consumer electronics company for some time. The key for IT organizations is to recognize and embrace massive consumer trends, because they almost always manifest themselves in business environments, as well. Enterprises ignore or attempt to thwart the consumerization of IT at their own peril."
There is a big upside to the business if IT embraces consumerization. The upside is that the users themselves are bringing the latest technology into the company sooner than would otherwise happen. That can mean better integration, better communication, better tools, and ultimately a competitive advantage for the company.
Finnie offers hope to discouraged leaders: "At its core, the consumerization of IT is about employee freedom and employee productivity. At some point you have to just trust your employees and not only let them do their jobs better, but support them in doing so. The ROI will follow."
Donald Ferguson, CTO at CA Technologies, agrees with Finnie, saying, "The consumerization of IT has been gradually occurring for years. The iPhone followed by the iPad has made 'consumerized IT' the new normal. Enterprises can enable and support iPhone, iPad, and new consumer devices -- or their employees will go around IT."
Frank Slootman, the former CEO at Data Domain and executive chairman of the BRS Division at EMC, shares similar sentiments: "Consumerization of IT is not a new phenomenon with the emergence of the iPad or even the smartphone. As far back as the mid-1980s, the very first Macs and LaserWriters were ushered into departments of the enterprise completely against the tightly locked-down policies of the IT department who refused to support them. It is an unstoppable grassroots dynamic many decades underway. I am sure we ain't seen nothing yet."
Consumer technology now comes in through the front door
Consumer technology is walking in the front door of the corporation, and Eric Openshaw, principal and vice chairman at Deloitte, says this trend is just as prevalent in the executive suite as it is on the front lines of the enterprise.