IT Consumerization - An Unstoppable Trend

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Many of the newest and fastest-growing trends in IT, such as Web 2.0 or cloud services, began in the consumer space and ultimately worked their way into the enterprise through a process known as IT consumerization. IT managers are facing an explosion of popular devices and applications in their enterprises that they are struggling to control from a technology and policy perspective.1 This is going to be a major impact to IT organizations going forward. In fact, Gartner identified consumerization as one of the highest-impact trends in the IT industry.2 Ignore these trends for long, and a company can put its competitive position at risk as employees will feel restricted by enterprise IT policies.

Large companies have begun to explore the idea of requiring employees to purchase their own computer hardware and mobile devices while providing the employee with a small stipend (such as US$1000) to do so. It would then become his or her choice of devices to do the job most effectively.

However, the proliferation of these different devices within an organization can put a company’s data at risk because of the equal proliferation of new device features whose unique requirements also have to be supported. While the risk to the organization needs to be addressed and managed, the increased flexibility nevertheless can help employees get their job done in a more collaborative and real-time fashion using social media, more efficient mobile devices, and other cloud-based services.

The increasing number of devices consuming, generating and transmitting digital content over the Web does contribute to the increasing demand for storage. However, asking an organization to support an increasing variety of new devices, social media and personal preferences will challenge even the most capable IT department. For this reason, expect to see noticeable growth in alternative IT delivery and acquisition models and for companies to look to leverage them in their IT value chain.3

End users will clearly have more influence over enterprise IT direction in the future, but the organization must balance this with security, cost, business process requirements, delivery models and flexibility requirements. According to another Gartner survey, by 2012, companies expect to support an average of 3.3 smartphone or tablet platforms.4 This is beginning to drive large investments in mobile and remote IT security. End users can continue to have the ability to use several types of devices to access company information from any location. The dividing line between work hours and free time continues to blur, and the increasing use of personal devices to perform at work will be a big issue for every company going forward.

All of these complex new and changing requirements will spur the growth of cloud-based solutions and subscription-based offerings. The growth of the cloud will result in larger and more centralized data centers. The data has to be stored somewhere, which bodes well for continued storage and petabyte growth. However, the more centralized buyers of storage will likely operate with greater storage utilization rates, less duplication of data on hard drives and a potentially more efficient data storage architecture, and they will have greater bargaining power when negotiating for storage solutions.

These factors will likely serve to mitigate some of the future petabyte growth in the storage industry and to some extent suppress the margins for major networked-based storage solution resellers.

Clearly the future of IT will increasingly be shaped by consumer trends. The extent to which organizations and vendors can harness this trend will help determine success or failure.


1 IDC, The Consumerization of IT: How Are CIOs Managing the Complexity?, October 2010
2 Gartner, Key Issues for Web 2.0 and Beyond, 2010, March 2010
3 Gartner, Value Gap and Consumerization Could Disrupt Traditional IT Service Providers by 2015, August 2010
4 Gartner, Findings: Consumerization Is Affecting Enterprise Mobility Strategies, December 2010

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