TotalCIO

Sep 9 2011   2:34PM GMT

IT shops can’t keep up with consumerization of IT

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

If the consumerization of IT doesn’t kill IT shops, it might make them stronger, so the theory goes. However, it’s certainly driving them crazy in the short run.

That’s the gist of a worldwide survey from IDC and Unisys that examined the two faces of the phenomenon: how much consumer technologies are already being used in the workplace, and how IT shops are responding to this change. The verdict from the 3,000 business executives and “information workers” polled by IDC is that workers are moving much faster to use consumer technologies for work than most IT shops are moving to support them. Here are two stats:

  1. IT underestimated the number of workers using consumer devices for work by 50%.
  2. IT underestimated the number of workers using social networks by almost 40%.

According to the survey, IT not only grossly underestimates the number of workers using consumer hardware, software and services, but many shops are also operating under mobile device policies that have little or no connection to reality: 87% of IT groups said company policy called for workers to source their smart mobile devices from the enterprise, but over 50% of the workers with smartphones and iPads said they bought their devices themselves. And the trend is accelerating: The percentage of employee-owned devices used to access business apps was up 10 points from last year’s study. Over a third of the workers polled use personally owned PCs for work, and nearly 10% use a personal tablet for work, a device that did not even exist a year and a half ago, as IDC’s Frank Gens points out. (Listen to Gens summarize the consumerization of IT survey.)

And, lest there be any doubt, consumer hardware, software and services keep us company (pun intended) wherever we go: About half of the workers polled said they use consumer technologies for work while on vacation; 29% use them while in bed; 20% while driving (eek); and 5% in places of worship.

What’s so hard about supporting the consumer technologies that workers use around the clock? Security is the single largest barrier that IT people cite (83%) to more successfully supporting the worker race to adopt consumer technologies, followed by “viruses from social networks” (56%) and “challenges in developing policies around support and lifecycle management (52%).” About a third of IT workers said the drain on company bandwidth from employees using corporate Wi-Fi was a barrier, and 27% cited the difficulty of building a business case for supporting these technologies.

The sad but not surprising part is that IT knows it’s falling behind in the race by employees to adopt consumer technologies. In fact, true to form (IT folks are nothing if not hard on themselves), IT people reported they are worse at supporting employee-owned (BYOD) devices this year than last year, and worse at integrating consumer technologies.

The good news is that IT gets this. The CIOs we talk to and have been reporting on all year get it, and the workers in this survey know IT cannot be the backward-looking face of the consumerization of IT. The overwhelming majority of IT people polled in this survey are also convinced that consumerization of IT is inevitable and believe it will make employees more productive (70%). They know that business execs expect them to support consumer devices (80%). They also say that consumerization of IT will increase the IT workload (80%).

And that’s kind of the silver lining in this, isn’t it? Rather than consumerization of IT putting CIOs and their IT shops out of business, it makes you busier than ever.

1  Comment on this Post

 
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  • Steveschmidt
    Linda, fantastic post on the challenges surrounding the consumerization of IT. I agree that, if managed correctly, this trend can certainly help make IT shops stronger and employees more productive. To ensure this does in fact take place, it’s important to arm businesses with the right tools to automate the complex processes around application lifecycle management, which includes software license management and optimization. With so many employees using their own unsupervised personal devices in the workplace these days (i.e., more than a third of workers polled by IDC use personally-owned PCs and nearly 10% use a personal tablet), CIOs need to make software licensing management and optimization a priority. When it comes to software application usage, the majority of CIOs don’t realize they’re either under-using/overspending or overusing/out-of-compliance. Flexera Software’s 2010 application usage management survey revealed that for 53% of enterprises, at least some of their software license spend is associated with applications that are overused and therefore out of compliance. And 85% of enterprises reported that at least some of their software license spend is associated with under-used software, or shelfware. As IT organizations strive to catch up and get ahead of the consumerization trend, they should preemptively deploy software license optimization solutions that are flexible enough to handle all the device and application types selected by end users.
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