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Managing IT consumerization

Employees are taking technology decisions into their own hands—literally.

Overview

 

In a major workplace shift termed “consumerization,” staff are increasingly making decisions about how they work, what technology devices they use and where they use them. In doing so, they are raising major questions about the IT organization’s traditional responsibilities, funding and staffing, and creating challenges for the CIO.

In Accenture’s view, IT consumerization, the use of personal technologies to perform an organization’s work, has the potential to revolutionize IT departments.

Organizations that embrace consumer technology devices and services can realize significant benefits:

  1. Create revenue streams from digital services and enhance customer engagement

  2. Increase workforce productivity by leveraging the wealth of applications available on consumer app stores

With its emphasis on employee self-service, IT consumerization is changing the IT department’s traditional roles and responsibilities.

Background

Consumers and businesses are increasingly open to using a wide array of applications and services that increase convenience and access to information at lower cost.

 

IT consumerization is part of a much wider evolution of computing power from centralized IT management to end-user control.

This trend began with client-server computing; accelerated with the mass availability of wireless broadband, handheld smartphones, cloud and mobility; and heralded the arrival of rich, context-based services that have radically reshaped access to IT services.

As IT consumerization gains momentum, it is changing the IT department’s traditional roles and responsibilities; creating both challenges and opportunities for the organization.

The trend is rewarding organizations that embrace this evolutionary model of IT provisioning and delivery, and penalizing those not yet prepared to make the change to leveraging the flexibility and scalability it offers.

Analysis

For the CIO, the changes call for balancing employee enablement with corporate control.

 

In greater numbers, employees are seeking self-enablement with apps that help them access and use information. Responsibility for sourcing, testing, purchasing and supporting hardware, software and services could shift from the enterprise to the employee, thereby significantly changing the IT department’s responsibilities.

The IT department would likely intensify its focus on the crucial task of maintaining corporate data and managing secure and policy-based access to that data. Corporate IT would become the guardian of data, while all device-based applications and devices would become the responsibility of the employee.

Ongoing evolution in common ways of working means that organizations that do not adapt to the consumerization trend are likely to be at a disadvantage.

Recommendations

To realize the potential benefits of consumerization, most enterprises will need to make significant changes in five areas of corporate IT management:

  1. Operating model and governance

  2. Finance and funding

  3. Processes and policies

  4. Risk, security and compliance

  5. Employee self-sufficiency and education

These changes could enhance customer service in four ways:

  1. Innovative services. Consumerization offers the ability to create new digital services and products, thus engaging customers in new ways.

  1. Risk reduction. Businesses could establish new security measures and “contracts” between employer and employees regarding their responsibilities and liabilities.

  2. Cost reduction. Device costs could be shifted away from central IT, freeing up IT budget for crucial data and application management tasks.

  3. Value for the customer. As consumerization makes businesses more agile, they can be more responsive, provide better security and develop deeper relationships with customers.

Consumerization is not a matter of “if” but “when.” In Accenture’s view, customers will increasingly recognize high-performance businesses as ones that proactively adopt IT consumerization—and will avoid those that are still playing catch-up.