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You cannot separate mobility and consumerization

by Mark P. McDonald  |  December 14, 2011  |  7 Comments

I doubt that anyone has lugged their personal desktop computer into the office and demanded that it be connected to the network.  Equally I doubt anyone has brought in a pile of CD’s asking to load their own enterprise software on the network to run their part of the business in their own way, giving new meaning to myERP.

The point is that Consumerization goes hand in hand with mobility.  These are not two separate trends, but rather they are inextricably linked.

Each of us, or someone we know has brought their mobile device (Laptop, smartphone, Tablet) into their organization and hooked it into your network and started to run your own apps.  When asked why they need this, they answer because it better reflects what I need, the way I work and most importantly the way I want to work!

IT professionals can easily think of consumerization and mobility as different things.

Mobility is often seen as a technology that I have to support in terms devices, information, communications contracts, incorporating iPads into the environment etc.  Mobility in this context is an extension of earlier ‘mobile workforce’ initiatives where offered a change in the tools used for work but not a change in the kind of work.

Consumerization of IT is a disruptive force at many levels.  Operationally consumerization can involve support issues as people bring stuff from the outside that I need to support.  Project wise, consumerizations disrupts project cycle times as consumer oriented business users want new systems at the pace of the market rather than the capacity of internal IT.  Security and integrity face compromise as people use data in applications (app’s) that I do not control.

Mobility rests on a deep public substructure and infrastructure that enables IT to reduce the amount of technology organizations have to build and provision.  Lower the implementation barrier and the number of solutions floods in, solutions aimed not at competing with core enterprise applications, but ones that increase customer and workforce convenience all delivered not across corporate systems but across mobile devices.

CIOs and IT professionals, who see mobility and consmerization as competition for IT, view the world as a zero sum game.  Consumerization or mobility wins only when IT loses.  Loses control, loses security, loses primacy in the organization.

It is almost physically and financially impossible for a single IT organization to compete with the world of mobile apps, CIOs and IT leaders defending their space fall back on an old reactionary set of defenses: Risk, Cost, Integration, Security, Control.

While its possible to keep these two things apart, I believe recognizing that those looking for consumerization are also looking for mobility.  There is little difference between the two and creating effective solutions to both comes from re-imagining IT’s role in ways that see consumerization as a complementary rather than competing technology.

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Category: applications  technology  

Tags: cio-strategy  consumerization-of-it  mobility  technology  

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Fellow Emeritus in Gartner for General Managers Program.

Thoughts on You cannot separate mobility and consumerization

  1. Well said, Mark. As a Symantec employee, I’ve found the best IT departments are those that look at consumerization and mobility as a net gain, not a net loss.

    Spencer Parkinson

  2. Jackie Kahle says:

    Mark – I agree completely. I think IT has the opportunity to truly transform how they deliver IT services in this era of the “new normal”, inluding mobility, consumerization, big data, and more. Looking at this all holistically as you suggest might be the way for IT to leverage consumer technology to enable new revenue streams for their organization.

    Jackie Kahle
    CA Technologies

  3. […] 14: You can't separate mobility and consumerization by Mark McDonald via Gartner blogs. Mark posits that the two are completely intertwined and IT […]

  4. Very well said Mark! Far too often we in the technology industry tend to ignore everything else other than technology and consumerization is no different. The good part though is that CIOs are slowly starting to understand the significance of consumerization in driving disruptive concepts like mobility & social media. I happen to maintain a blog which mostly talks about Consumerization of IT and had recently put up a post on the lines of Consumerization driving mobility. Here’s the link in case it interests you:

  5. Mobility is definitely one of the very visible signs of consumer technologies making their way into corporate enterprises. I suspect that we can all recall looking at the first iPhone bearer in our organizations with a hint of jealousy while sporting a blackberry.

    Another key element though of consumerization, however, is design. It used to be that the cool tech went to enterprises first and then out to consumers. That’s no longer the case and it extends to a lot of things outside of mobility too.

    How many people would rather switch out their Outlook client for the simplicity of Gmail or Sparrow? How many people would rather carry around a Macbook than a generic Dell/HP/Lenovo laptop? Would they rather deal with the same old Internet Explorer browser, or be able to use Chrome?

    And then finally, outside of design, rapid release cycles is another issue to deal with. In our personal lives, we’re using to seeing iterations that quickly fill in the gaps of initial launches. When was the last time you saw for a major enterprise project?

    Abbas Haider Ali.

  6. […] managing consumerisation arguably the hottest topic for IT organisations, I wonder how many business (IT) projects that […]

  7. Yea! I agree we cannot separate mobility and consumerization.

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