A couple of weeks ago I poked fun at the trend known as the consumerization of IT -- the notion that business users will soon get most of the technology they need directly from commercial mobile and cloud vendors rather than from internal IT. The idea that a shift like this will happen across the board overnight is just ridiculous.
But that doesn't mean IT should ignore the trend or try to stand in its way. On the contrary, IT needs to lead and take advantage of it.
[ Also on InfoWorld.com: The shift in the IT landscape requires a shift in leadership -- find out how to be a modern CIO. | Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. ]
I'm not the first to say this, but the parallels between today's consumerization trend and the very early days of PCs are striking. From a user standpoint, the PC was about personal empowerment: The technology to do my job better is available on the open market and the IT department, which seems to care little about my needs, is not going to stop me from getting it.
If I recall correctly, way back when, the IT organizations that were quickest to embrace and lead the adoption of PCs gained the advantage -- not only over IT shops that fought the new desktop paradigm, but also over those that rolled out PC technology willy-nilly. The same will be true of consumerization.
A new relationship with users
The key for IT is to provide a framework within which users can procure their own stuff. Rather than users getting out of hand and messing things up, they can actually help take technology to the next level -- and do much of the work to get there themselves.