Consumerization of IT – Your Responsibility, Your Opportunity

There is a revolution happening with the rise of social, mobile, and cloud computing, the blurring lines between business and personal, and the proliferation of connected devices. This ‘consumerization of IT’ is forcing radical change on businesses (and governments), which are in turn forcing radical change on IT.

This is clear from a fascinating new research study conducted by IDC (PDF) , released this week by CA Technologies, into how the consumerization of IT is affecting business, and how IT is changing to accommodate this change.

And guess what …

It’s all about you!

Consider how you are driving demand for online technology.

This new IDC research shows that the majority of connected consumers (like you) regularly use e-mail, manage finances, pay bills, shop, use instant messaging, log into social websites, watch videos, download applications, and view photos – all online. Perhaps you also buy insurance, manage investments, video or voice chat, tweet, read the newspaper, book travel, check-in to your flights, and more – all online.

IDC’s data suggest you are probably sharing information too, not just consuming it. On social media alone, almost a third of consumers generate their own posts every day, and nearly three-quarters do so at least once a week. Over 60% of you are sharing photos, over half are sharing updates, and almost a third are sharing your location. Somewhat alarmingly, however, up to 80% are exposing personal information like credit card numbers, birthdays, location, finances, and more.

It’s also about your devices

Now consider how you are accessing online technology.

Consumers like you are connecting through an ever-expanding array of devices and platforms.

Consumers like you are connecting through an ever-expanding array of devices and platforms. IDC found that 80% of consumers regularly access the Internet with a smartphone (just 10% less than via a laptop), generating over one fifth of online transactions. Another 36% access the Internet with a tablet, driving almost 10% of online transactions. Then there are other connected devices like set-top boxes, gaming consoles, smart TVs, VOIP devices, and more.

This is in addition the expanding list of connected business devices, like elevators, electricity meters, check-in desks, information kiosks, ATM/POS units, railway switches, traffic lights, environmental controls, medical devices, cash registers, cooking equipment, doorway sensors, and more.

You Are Making Business Adapt

Businesses (and governments) must adapt to accommodate this consumer-driven revolution in two ways:

They must adapt to how employees (like you) mix business and personal technology. IDC shows a majority of employees use laptops, PCs, smartphones, tablets, and cloud services for both personal and business use. This mix will be even more profound as ‘digital natives’ – who take this mix for granted – make up an increasing percentage of employees. You are also working differently, as part of a newly distributed, telecommuting, mobile, and collaborative workforce.

Business must adapt to how customers (like you) enable new business models

They must also adapt to how customers (like you) enable new business models based on mobility, relationships, personalization, etc. Consumerization of IT enables new ways of working with customers (and partners) individually and collectively, across political, geographical, and social boundaries, extending markets and supply chains. The opportunities are incredible, so businesses are increasingly adapting to take advantage of them.

So You Are Making IT Adapt

The changing business environment is driving a fundamental shift in IT.

As a user of social, mobile, cloud, and other consumer technologies, you expect new capabilities faster, but with a familiar experience; personal, but non-invasive; accessible and available, but non-intrusive; ‘always-on’, but not inescapable; secure, but not locked down; connected with thousands, but retaining your personality.

To accommodate this, IT must deliver new capabilities faster, without upsetting existing customers; remember preferences without invading privacy; provide broad data access, yet still ensure security, audit, and control; deliver applications and data at massive scale, but with a personal touch.

The IDC study identifies security, privacy, and confidentiality as top of mind concerns for IT in adapting to these demands, followed closely by issues like cross-platform experience, cloud service levels, and fitting capacity to demand. It also explains how consumerization is forcing new approaches to traditional IT disciplines like data protection, identity, continuity, virtualization, performance, capacity, integration, automation and more.

A handful of leading organizations are embracing social, mobile, and cloud computing

The “Top 8 Characteristics of Leaders” in the research is particularly revealing, showing how a handful of leading organizations are embracing social, mobile, and cloud computing to improve agility, drive down costs, compete better, get to market faster, attract new customers, improve customer satisfaction, drive higher loyalty, improve brand awareness, penetrate new geographies and segments, and more.

Bottom line – it’s still about you

The research has too much detail to review in full here. I highly recommend you download the whole document – it is available on the CA website (PDF).

The bottom line is that you — as a individual, as a consumer, as an employee, as an IT professional — are responsible for a radical change affecting business, government, and IT. You are both driving this change as a consumer of social, mobile, and cloud applications; and being driven by this change as an IT professional adapting to these new customer behaviors.

While a minority of leading organizations already ‘get it’, there is still a massive latent opportunity to establish new game-changing technologies, drive disruptive innovations, build exponential revenues, and beat your competitors.

There is still a massive latent opportunity to drive disruptive innovation

To take advantage of this opportunity, you need to plan for new business and technology approaches, design new systems and applications (and/or redesign legacy systems), deliver new capabilities to enable new business opportunities, and both assure and secure the customer experience in new ways.

We are all at the forefront of a unique historical event, a once-in-a-lifetime chance that we cannot allow to pass us by. We must embrace it, or we will be history too.