How the empowered user empowers the enterprise
We've all heard the consumer driven IT story before: Over the past few years, employees increasingly brought their personal computing devices to work. They started using them in place of, or in addition to, company-supplied PCs and smartphones. And they started using them for more than officially sanctioned email and VPN access. Unable to beat back the trend, even the most reticent of IT organizations are now trying to figure out how to best support personal devices.
That support is, more often than not, limited to basic connectivity and data access-and by that, I mean email. But the support requirements are growing exponentially, along with the number of non-sanctioned devices, new OSes, SaaS solutions, and cloud services people are using. All of that is pumping up the size of the user communities around them. What started as an employee movement has exploded to include customers, partners, and vendors.
A new study by Deloitte projects five percent of tablets sold in 2012-about 5 million devices-will be a user's second device. That finding supports earlier insights reported in last year's IDC study sponsored by CA Technologies on enterprise consumerization, which found users operating multiple devices to be on the rise, with 90 percent using PCs, 85 percent using smartphones, and 38 percent using tablets.
This growth in OSes, apps, and devices is in diametric opposition to how IT departments have traditionally operated: Standardize on one, maybe two hardware options (desktop, laptop); a single version of the Windows operating system; and a single mobile phone platform to tightly control deployments and device management, and to contain management costs. This "proven" management model will soon be, or is already, shattered.
As much as this appears to be a technology shift, it's not; at least, that's not the driving force behind the trend. It's more of a pent-up behavioral shift fundamentally cut loose by the ability to work when and where you please. Instead of getting things done in specific places in specific ways (i.e., at your desk or in your den, at a physically wired desktop PC), people can now do different things at different times of the day, using different types of technology that are most appropriate for the task at hand.
Indeed, a recent CA Technologies-sponsored survey found people who use mobile devices are able to reclaim 38 days per year that would otherwise be characterized as "down time." People are using their mobile devices to "fill up" their downtime, such as waiting for meetings to start, hanging out at airports between flights, going out with the family on weekends, or even "shopping while shopping" (i.e., surfing Amazon.com while walking the aisles at Target).
That's human nature driving technology, not the other way around-it's "consumer driven IT." The IT organization will not be successful trying to dictate how and where people can work, or the technology (hardware, software, and services) they use to get things done. In the most successful companies, IT is shifting from a top-down model that controls people to a bottom-up model that empowers people.
And IT is getting the message. Instead of resisting employee and customer demands for increased access across greater numbers of devices and platforms, corporate purchasing plans indicate 2012 could be the year when companies embrace alternative computing platforms, such as tablets, in droves. Apple says 90 percent of the Fortune 500 are now testing or deploying the iPad.
This aligns with what the CA Technologies-sponsored IDC study on consumerization found, with leading corporations reporting they were more likely to include mobile in their overall business strategy. Among companies in the vanguard of their industries, the IDC research shows:
As people and markets embrace a myriad of new devices, OSes, apps, and cloud services to access and interact with corporate applications and services, IT departments should empower their organizations by:
- Creating corporate security and privacy policies around mobile use
- Developing identity and access control procedures for mobile devices
- Transforming existing business services to support mobile transactions
- Transforming business applications, websites, content, and more to enable mobile web interfaces
- Developing strategies to accommodate web traffic surges driven by expanded access (it's not just employees anymore, but now, customers, partners, etc.)
But, before any of that can happen, IT has to master the basics and develop a contemporary set of core competencies, including:
- Understanding behaviors of mobile users across profiles (employees versus customers versus partners)
- Incorporating universal mobile user experiences into application designs
- Becoming a productivity enabler
- Transforming IT into a service organization (i.e., it's time to go beyond "support")
- Recognizing that saying "no" as a mechanism to keep control of IT platforms is no longer an option
Successful IT departments now building the next generation of mobile apps are working more closely than ever with their business counterparts (internal and external) and IT vendors. Such cross-company, cross-vendor collaboration is crucial to delivering creative, secure, and manageable apps that empower people. The results are tangible: more innovation, improved customer service, increased brand value, greater collaboration, higher productivity, and happier stakeholders.
While people, not technology, are now the driving force behind IT innovation, it's still crucial to ensure IT can achieve the levels of security and management it's accustomed to, without unduly limiting the freedom of people to get things done using whatever devices, OSes, or services as they see fit.
In fact, not a day goes by that we aren't asked by an IT leader for help or guidance supporting, managing, and securing mobile solutions over public networks, private networks, and cloud services. A year ago I couldn't say that, because many IT organizations were still in denial. And that, my friends, is the biggest behavioral shift.