Have you consumerised yet?

Column by Stijn Viaene, professor of Management Information Systems

  • Professor at KULeuven and Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School
  • Partner at Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School
  • Deloitte Research Chair Bringing IT to Board Level

My, that iPad’s such a sexy thing! Especially when you compare it with the dinosaur of a PC you’re using at work. Give all your employees such a gadget – ‘iPad-For-Everybody’ (iFE)! A totally nutty idea? Maybe you’d rather go for ‘Bring-Your-Own-Device’ (BYOD) to work? And can the IT department also act as an App Store, please?

In IT circles today, there’s quite a bit of hype around 'consumerisation'. Whether that becomes the buzzword of 2011 remains to be seen. But a trend is clearly noticeable. Everything is revolving around the altered expectations of IT’s end-users. More and more, these folks are projecting their consumer experiences with web-services and mobile technology on everything related to enterprise IT. This then plays out as scores of suggestions – including iFE and BYOD – being sent to the CIO. Indeed, as a consumer in an i-Cloud, you do benefit every day from an unseen – but apparently quite attainable – IT user-friendliness and omnipresent, on-demand services.

So, is there light at the end of the business-IT alignment tunnel? If it’s already visible, then many of us have not yet seen it. In the eyes of end-users, the difference between the consumer reality and what the IT department will support is enormous. Which is not necessarily a problem in itself – except that these users are bringing their consumer devices and behaviour to work. Research by IDC, a commercial research firm, indicates that end-users are indeed moving much faster to adopt and use consumer technologies in the workplace than their IT departments are moving to support them. They call this the 'consumerisation gap'.

Fortunately, most CIOs recognise the importance of this issue. Can you not see it, for that matter? But they’re still often in the dark when asked for effective policy measures. And there aren’t any ready-made answers at the moment. What particularly concerns most of them is the scarcity of a constructive position within their own IT department. So, to all the sinners out there: Get ready, because IT in the workplace will never again be like it was. Which also goes for your job and mine.

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