Consumerization of IT reaches tipping point: IDC study

ReportThe so-called “consumerization of IT” that’s been giving large enterprises the willies has reached a tipping point where corporations are now recognizing they can no longer live in a state of denial about it. Firms that choose to try to continue to ignore the transformational impact of consumer technologies at the office are in for one hell of a rough ride.

A new IDC study entitled, “IT Consumers Transform the Enterprise: Are You Ready?”, sponsored by CA Technologies and released June 28th, seems to confirm this stating that the consumerization of IT creates many new opportunities, including increased employee productivity, improved customer interactions, and more agile business operations and decision making. Not surprisingly, the study also stated consumerization is resulting in significant IT management and security challenges.

And yet it’s nothing new. The term, “consumerization” was initially popularized in 2001 as a key driver of the Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 movements. A decade has passed and only now there appears to be a general consensus forming in the corporate CIO’s office?

“The consumerization of IT has been around for a long time,” agreed Andi Mann, vice-president of cloud strategy and solutions at CA Technologies. “But what I think is happening now, especially with the emergence of Facebook and various cloud computing concepts . . . we’re seeing organizations that are adopting these sorts of technologies starting to show business results.”

It’s no grand secret that it’s all about the ROI (return-on-investment) in the business world.

“It is results-driven. We’re at a tipping point now because enterprises are seeing results from adapting these consumer technologies,” he added.

The new generation of workers and customers are demanding an ‘always-on, always connected’ experience. From a human resources perspective, the consumerization of IT also puts pressure on corporations to embrace this transformation.

“CA Technologies is adapting to this too. We’re affected by this just as much as any other organization,” Mann admitted. “CA is using social media and cloud computing and our CEO has talked about how good that is for us. . . I’d say we’re a little bit out in front of some organizations.”

While new opportunities are clearly emerging, so are the risks. Mann acknowledged the need for reliable IT management and security solutions across all environments, specifically virtual and cloud, to ensure the next generation of IT is successful. But resisting this IT shift is futile.

“Of the organizations that are using social media and the cloud that IDC surveyed, they’re reducing their expenses, they’re seeing better customer interactions and retention, they’re able to get to market faster,” Mann noted. “If you consider organizations that are not getting all of that but are competing against organizations that are, the outcome is obvious: If you don’t adapt it you are going to be behind your competitors.

“That’s what’s critical for CIOs to understand about this consumerization trend; it’s going to happen and you can’t stop it.”

Today’s CIOs have an opportunity to lead both business and IT innovation as they help their organizations decide how to best exploit the trend towards consumerization and personalization of IT, stated Crawford Del Prete, IDC’s Chief Research Officer, in a statement.

“In the face of rapid and intense consumerization of IT, CIOs are being called upon to work closely with business decision makers to create safe, secure, well-managed environments that allow the company to communicate and collaborate with customers and employees anytime, anywhere,” he said. “CIOs need to lead the charge in order to ensure that customers are engaged, confidential data is protected, employee productivity is enabled, and the enterprise is getting the greatest return possible on every IT dollar it spends.”

Based on Del Prete’s remarks concerning CIOs exploiting the consumerization and personalization of IT, it’s easy to see how chatter concerning enterprise app stores has ratcheted up in recent months.

“It’s definitely a popular notion right now. The Apple App Store kicked off what enterprise IT had already been doing only we didn’t have a good name for it,” he said. “The consumerization of IT is affecting customers and employees. Enabling your employees to share a new collaboration, design project or web marketing campaign as easily as they can download an app to their (mobile device) is driving agile business. That too makes business more competitive.”

Touching on what the key takeaways from the study are for the channel community, Mann said adapting to the new reality of allowing employees to bring personal mobile devices into the workplace; providing your customers with access to you on whatever device or social network they wish while ensuring a good quality of experience; and providing adequate security and authorization to protect data and personal privacy.

Meanwhile, the research indicated businesses that are being proactive about consumer-driven IT are more likely to realize greater benefits from investments made to address the consumerization of IT. For example, 45 per cent of proactive leaders reported they are experiencing improved customer satisfaction and loyalty by using social networks and rich media, compared to 31 per cent that are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach.

Similarly, these proactive leaders are experiencing significant benefits from the use of public cloud services. Specifically, among the 616 organizations in the survey that are using public cloud services:

  • 5 per cent are reporting they are able to reduce IT staff, FTEs and/or training expenses using public cloud services;
  • 36 per cent are seeing improved competitive positioning from their use of public cloud services;
  • 36 per cent see an improved ability to deal with spikes in demand using public cloud services.

Other notable study highlights include:

  • Among all organizations surveyed, 31 per cent are concerned about providing a consistent user experience to customers via social networks across all devices or browsers;
  • Among all organizations surveyed, 41 per cent identified the ability to guarantee an end-to-end user experience via mobile devices as one of their biggest challenges.

IDC said it surveyed 804 IT executives from organizations of over $1 billion (US) in revenue with responsibility for or influence over their organization’s strategy for public cloud, social, and mobile initiatives. A separate survey consisting of 1,040 IT consumers who use public cloud, smart devices, and/or social networks for personal or business purposes was combined with it to produce these results.