OK, for those of you who have not heard about this before I would refer you to the Gartner press-release here. “Consumerization of IT” refers to the idea that over the next few years we will see enterprises leaving the end-user side of IT to the end-users who also happen to be consumers.
Letting people take care of their own IT needs? That’s crazy talk, right? Well may be not…
To start, IT departments are beginning to realize that they are not as quick to adopt new technologies as consumers are. New improvements to end user technology appear constantly in the market. The availability of these improvements does not always coincide with IT’s plan for upgrades to end users tools. What is happening is that quickly people at home end up having better tools than what they have at work. And the gap is growing everyday a little more. The other side of that equation is that IT departments are still looking to reduce costs; and lengthening the life of a workstation or limiting cell coverage plans are a couple of ways to do this.
Next the “a small set of options fits most needs” model does not work anymore. If you have tried to get everyone in your company on the same cell phone plan you know what I am talking about. At home, every one is getting their computer the way they want it (we can thank the likes of Dell and Apple for this). Its a good thing! technology is adjusting to people rather than people adjusting to technology. But those are levels of personalization that IT departments cannot achieve (at least not on the budgets they have to do it).
So what is going to happen?…
I think we will see a few large organizations try out this “Consumerization of IT” for subset of their workforce that are best suited for this new model. People will get a yearly allowance for their IT needs to cover computer, software, phone and services needs. Organizations will have contracts with “preferred” providers who will be default places to go for people and where volume pricing will have been negotiated. But for those people who can support themselves, or those people who do not want to go with the “standard workstation” model; then they will have the option to do whatever they please so long that they have the tools they need to do their job).
In addition, the availability of services such as the Microsoft’s OneCare and Google’s Gmail Hosted offering is very much in-line to support this kind of trend. What is left is for companies to establish what the cost savings could be to switch to such model, and how to manage through the transition from today’s model. In any event, some interesting work ahead.