Consumerisation of IT: Balancing expectations and demands

Firms are under pressure to do more with less and users’ thirst for the latest gadgets is only exacerbating the situation…

Looking back over the years, it's clear computing has undergone mammoth change. It's been very much a case of out with the big and ugly and in with a variety of form factors, all that much faster, sexier and cheaper than the last.

That's the upside. The downside is this shift has caused the average worker to question why they have better computers at home than in the workplace. Indeed, in many cases, they may have better computers in their pocket than they do on their office desktop.

Working around the system

This has led to calls from employees to have the devices they want to use in the workplace to do their jobs. A survey by analyst firm Forrester Research in October 2012 asked why employees brought personal devices or applications into the workplace. The results made interesting reading with more than half (56 per cent) of respondents saying they did so, not because they want to but because they have to. Simply put, a lot of employees feel their company's IT is not up to the job.

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The consumer has a choice whereas the user gets what they are given. In that corporate IT world, if you are not giving your users what they want or what they expect, they probably going to go elsewhere and work around you.

For a long time now, many IT department have adopted the same strategy of providing a standard set of computing equipment. This one-size-fits-all approach makes for easier management of systems (standardised patching, management, security and so on) but just further displeases already jaded users who want greater freedom to use the devices they already know at love at home, at work.But it isn't just devices, services such as Dropbox and other cloud-enabled offerings threaten to open holes within the IT infrastructure.  However, that doesn't mean the IT team can just keep saying "no" purely based on the security argument.

The consumerisation of IT is "an inevitability," according to  Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. Often, he says, the reason people do it is because the devices they can get outside of the world of the IT department are superior.

"For a company that means incremental improvement in productivity. People are more efficient, they get things done faster, they can do more," he adds.

It's a point echoed by others.

The consumerisation of IT is at an inflection point, according to Jim Henrys, principal strategist at Intel. "In the last five years the cost of computing and communication has fallen so low it has become available to a huge number of people," he says.

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