Consumerization of IT: Mutiny or Inevitable Result?

Charlene OHanlon
There's been a lot of talk lately about the consumerization of IT - that realization that employees would prefer to use their own devices on a corporate network - and the stress it puts on the average corporate IT department. No longer does IT wield the control over the networks and the hardware it once did, and maybe that's a good thing.

In my experience, every laptop I was assigned by my employer (with the exception of one) was outdated, slow and bulky. And with the amount of traveling I did, the prospect of lugging around an old, heavy machine was low on my list of travel perks. These days, however, I travel with either my laptop or my tablet device, depending on the amount of heavy lifting (or writing) I have to do. And just having that option has done wonders to lighten my travel load, both physically and mentally.

It's my opinion that the consumerization of IT came about simply because employees were tired of having to use technology that was restrictive in its performance and design. Eventually there was bound to be mutiny, and it's also my opinion that corporations got off easy - mutinies tend to be messy and bloody. This one was such a quiet uprising that I believe it took many companies by surprise.

The increasing popularity of emerging technologies such as virtualization and cloud computing have also played a part in furthering the advancement of the consumerization of IT. After all, before the cloud literally became a household technology, companies would have clamped down hard on anyone trying to access a corporate network on a non-network device. Nowadays, however, companies trying such tactics would be considered downright medieval.

A slew of new offerings catering to the consumerization of IT are taking the concept even further. For one, a service from a company called HomePipe purports to enable users of mobile devices to access files from anywhere - to 'have their digital files at their fingertips, regardless of file size or type, and independent of system or content location,' according to the company's press release. Such a service was unheard of even five years ago, yet today it's available for a mere $23.99 per year.

So we've got the right devices, the right technologies and the right services to fully support the consumerization of IT. What remains now is for companies - and their IT departments - to realize if they want their employees to be productive at any hour, they need to ensure those employees are well-equipped with the technology they not only need but also enjoy using.

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