Done right, a top-down IT consumerization strategy can maximize business value for an organization and provide it with a formidable competitive advantage.
By Jack Cooper, Evangelos Katsamakas and Aditya Saharia
IT consumerization refers to the increasingly transformational impact of consumer IT on enterprise IT. Smartphones and tablets, mobile apps and app stores, cloud services such as e-mail, storage and collaboration tools, and social networks and related social technologies are some prominent examples of the consumer IT that is transforming enterprise IT. In many organizations today, IT consumerization is occurring as an unmanaged afterthought driven by employees and enabled by functionally powerful, accessible, and pervasive technology that frees employees to work anytime, anywhere. It is an emergent and haphazard bottom-up process, with more and more employees bringing their own devices, apps and cloud services into the workplace.
Attempting to block the growth of IT consumerization or deciding to ignore it are both fatal strategies. They could expose an organization to security risks, and reduce the competitive position of the organization due to its failure to exploit emerging digital innovations that can increase revenues, profits and productivity.
What organizations need is an IT consumerization strategy that maximizes business value. A top-down strategy needs to be developed whereby IT consumerization is exploited and management gains control of the use of IT consumerization devices, apps and services in the workplace. Management needs to provide leadership in defining business goals and process changes and to set rules about how devices, apps and services are selected, validated, introduced and managed. At the same time, organizations need to realize that a comprehensive IT consumerization strategy goes beyond being your own device (BYOD) management. Based on our discussions at the Fordham CIO Roundtable meetings, we’ve found these six factors to be important in the successful management of IT consumerization.
Focus on innovation to create business value. IT consumerization is changing the way we think about the role of IT in defining and supporting business strategy. Like other disruptive technologies of the past, we need to make sure that business processes are revised (and even reengineered) to create additional business value. Organizations need to establish an environment where innovation in the devices and apps are continually evaluated and tested, and when appropriate, employees are given guidelines for their use in work-related activities without compromising corporate security and privacy standards. For example, Vanguard continues to drive IT consumerization with its Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) agenda. Through its E2.0 pillars of mobility, enriching communication, and collaboration, Vanguard continues to mature the ability to allow “the crew” (as Vanguard employees are called internally) to securely access corporate systems remotely, or on campus, using an assortment of handheld technologies, while maintaining strict controls that are mandated by several regulatory agencies in the financial services industry. Vanguard has business and IT-partnered teams that focus on evaluating market trends and developing solutions in mobile applications, collaboration, cloud computing, virtualization, unified communications and agile development, all in the spirit of producing greater business value and increased speed to market.
Additionally, an organization may undertake its own app development effort, either internally or by investing in early-stage IT ventures. For example, for the past several years PepsiCo has invested 10 percent, on average, of the digital-media budget of its U.S. beverage brands in startups. PepsiCo management believes that working with and investing in early-stage companies is a mutually beneficial arrangement; PepsiCo provides mentoring and financial resources and, in return, gets early access to these startups’ new products and ideas.
Leverage the apps ecosystem and re-evaluate traditional enterprise IT vendors. The very same technologies that drive IT consumerization have opened the floodgates for the development of innovative apps by digital startups that grow on a variable costs basis and require much lower capital than in the past. A digital startups ecosystem is now in place, in which small, agile teams of highly motivated and skilled individuals can quickly create new apps, outperforming larger software producers that operate with extensive bureaucratic controls. This app development trend suggests that vendors that dominated the enterprise IT landscape in the past might be less relevant in the future, unless they adapt to their new competition.