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5/16/2012
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Consumerization: IT Doesn't Hate End Users (Anymore)

IT is coming around to the benefits of the consumerization of IT, our survey finds.

I traveled from Savannah, Ga., to Seattle a few weeks ago on a classic 11-hour business trip, banging away on my laptop through flight delays and spotty Web access. Somewhere over the Dakotas, the laptop went to sleep and never woke up.

Fortunately, my data was all in the cloud, saved in online applications, but I still needed a way to access it. It was midnight Sunday in Seattle, and I was facing an 8 a.m. Monday meeting where I needed my files.

A few years ago, this might have ended badly. The difference this time around: consumerization. The fact that all my data was safe and secure is a testament to cloud architectures and solid IT engineering. The fact that I could get a decent Dell laptop at 4:30 a.m. at Wal-Mart and access those files? That's one of the hidden benefits of IT consumerization. The laptop is mass-marketed to consumers, but it had everything I needed to do business that day.

Our second annual InformationWeek Consumerization of IT Survey shows that, like me in a Wal-Mart aisle at 4 in the morning, IT leaders are realizing how the consumerization of IT can be good a thing for the enterprise. More than half of companies now consider themselves proactive or accepting of consumer-centric tech; two years ago, just 32% did--that's a 24-point swing. A whopping two-thirds of companies cite positive benefits related to consumerization, and only 2% say it pulls IT from its strategic focus. Apple is now a true enterprise player, with iPhones, Macs, and iPads each supported by more than half of companies, up 10 percentage points or more from two years ago. We also see increased use of the types of applications that demand tech-savvy end users, such as IM, videoconferencing, and enterprise social networking.

So is this the dawn of a new era, when we finally blend the best of business and consumer tech into a seamless whole? Unfortunately, no--and that's IT's fault because we're slacking on support, even as consumerization expands. Just over half of companies provide some level of technical support to end users connecting personal devices to the network, but that's almost identical to two years ago. An additional 23% still "officially" say no, but end users call in anyway (likely with spotty results). The rest hold the line and leave employees on their own.

That's not smart, considering that security still dominates worries about the consumerization of IT, cited by 59%, up a tick from 2010. Concerns about not having the support staff and budget to help end users adopt technology have fallen, but they're still cited by more than one-third of respondents. And about a quarter say end users have better technology at home than at the office, up six points from two years ago.

Netting it out, though, we see IT embracing consumer tech for employees more than it's fighting it. The tension from that won't go away. Personal tech favors convenience over security, individual applications over a grand system design, and short-term fixes (and costs) over long-term investment. This tension can escalate to what one IT pro in our survey calls "a stalemate between innovation and control."

But it's also true that employees bring better skills and tech-powered ideas than ever to the job. Here's the latest on what's happening in the consumerization of IT and how you can take advantage on your terms.

Consumerization: Understand the Different Viewpoints

Did you know only 24% of companies have enterprise social networking in production--but 30% have it in pilot or planning stage?

Did you know that half of companies have room-based videoconferencing in production, but only 27% have desktop videoconferencing?

Additional analysis and our full data on the consumerization of IT is free with registration.
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