If you’ve ever been involved in a project requirements-gathering meeting then you have heard the same three requirements I have. The users and sponsors want it (whatever it is) to be fast, easy to use and configure, and highly scalable. Project managers cringe when they hear these descriptors and routinely ask how fast is fast and what “easy to use” actually means. These requirements also frustrated me until I realized what the users were actually asking for.
They were really asking about the consumerization of IT.
In consumer computing magazines just 15 years ago, we would read of technologies soon to come to market. Articles would talk of the futuristic science of CD-ROMs and the engineering hurdles that must be overcome to bring technology and software to market.
In today’s technology environment, that span of waiting several months for information and solutions has evolved into trying to keep up with the flood of information streaming toward us from every device we own. And in keeping with that trend, consumers have become less patient. We won’t tolerate 10 second web page load times. Three minutes in a drive-through line is frustrating. And waiting a week to bring up a testing server now results in a potential for lost revenue. As speed-to-market continues to accelerate, IT services are becoming more and more like a convenience store.
With these increases in expectations and demands comes consumerization.
Put your IT thoughts on hold for just a second and think about consumerization. I don’t believe that consumerization of IT is a mythical deliverable capable of being understood only by the brightest technical Nobel Laureates in the world. Rather, the concept is very simple and mostly overthought.
A consumer is someone that acquires a service or good for consumption or use. If we translate that to the buying cycle of a consumer, the development and marketing that goes along with the product or service, and their associated sales cycles, you have consumerization.
Put even more simply, you walk into the store and you want a particular fruity-juicy energy drink because of the hype generated through TV commercials. If they have it, you buy it. If they don’t, you make an alternate buying solution that may include no purchase at all. The buying decision-making process can be well planned and thought out and budgeted for or it can simply be an impulse purchase. It could be inexpensive or very much out of line with your budget expenditure. This is how consumers buy.
If our consumer has a want or a need for a technology either in their personal lives or in business and acquires that technology, we call that the consumerization of IT.
One of my co-workers buys an iPad. So? The issue is not that they bought an iPad. The issue comes when they find a helpful app that they can use/need in their day to day business lives and it requires integration with your corporate email system or production network.
If a consumer won’t wait peacefully for a fast food burger at lunch or a latte during the morning rush hour, what makes you think he or she will wait patiently while IT figures out how (and if) they will connect that iPad to the network and allow a single user to be more productive?
Consumerization is more about treating our internal customers as actual paying customers with control over IT jobs (think free market society) rather than a nuisance. Nuisances get outsourced or eliminated. And it is this reality that causes the underlying fear of the consumerization of IT.
So what is IT to do? IT can’t continue to be a laggard in technology adoption. This includes virtualization, cloud computing, Software-as-a-Service, other things-as-a-Service, customer service, monitoring, security, unified communications, and managed services. Desktop and server provisioning times need to be reduced to minutes instead of days, operating system and application rollouts need to be able to be rolled back if they fail, and disaster recovery and business continuity need to be first and foremost rather than first forgotten. IT has to learn to be agile and provide solutions that are ahead of the market and not just reacting to it. We need to realize that we can no longer dictate what devices can consume services but rather provide ways for secure delivery of services without regard to the end consumer device.
Simply put, if we fail to treat IT consumers as our most valued resources they will go to another store to shop.
|This article was featured in “Acrodex This Month – September”. The newsletter also featured:
Check it out here.
For more than 25 years, Acrodex has been a leading provider of strategic IT services for Canadian business. Today, the company is one of Canada’s largest IT solution providers, and provides a full suite of IT services including: IT Architecture and Design, hardware provisioning, software licensing, network & server infrastructure, managed infrastructure support, application development and project management.
Acrodex customers include leading enterprise and medium sized organizations across the country, in such industry segments as the public sector, energy, healthcare, education, and oil and gas. The Acrodex team is comprised of over 600 dedicated IT professionals located in Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina and Vancouver.