The consumerization discussion in companies always amazes me.
You know, the ‘bring your own device’, ‘iPad’, ’email on Android’ thing …
It is a huge change in the workplace, but so many companies still don’t understand real drivers behind this.
There is a reason that Jobs and Apple did not allow corporate IT departments to easily manage, control and restrict Apple devices .. because Steve Jobs understood that it DESTROYS the usability and performance – not just of the device, but of the user … or to give them their correct name, person (human being is OK too).
The main driver behind consumerization is not people wanting to own your own kit, it is a damning indictment of the failure of corporate IT to understand and enable people to get the job done. People want to use their own technology because they despise everything that corporate technology stands for and consistently the experience that is consistently delivers:
… unusable, slow booting, heavy, ugly (but cheap) laptops with a battery life that can just about survive one meeting, but not an international flight or even a working day.
… unintuitive, cumbersome, bloated, slow software that takes forever to download, requires you suspend common sense in using with the graphical aesthetic that a 4 year old wielding a packet of crayons would be ashamed of
… security policies that in the name of corporate compliance add additional steps that make the most simple of tasks even slower, more painful and more complex than finishing an advanced calculus paper whilst after a bottle of Grey Goose
And corporate IT people think it is about the device.
It is about YOU and what you do.
[Note that I said cheap laptops. The irony of course is that whilst IT departments often buy most of the people poor laptops, the total cost of ownership of these, and the cost of managing them is rediculously high. Not that this would bother IT departments as they buy whatever they want and don’t use the same rubbish that they provide you with. They also get to setup their machines as workable and reasonably usuable. Something that they deny to you].
Years ago, people had no choice. They had to use what they were given, they couldn’t afford the best devices and didn’t always appreciate what was possible.
But now they do, and corporate IT should be worried. Very, very worried. Today, people are working outside the system, focusing on getting the job done. Doing what they need to do to perform at work, keep their job and continue to keep the payslips coming. They are connecting these devices because they need to get to the data and information they need. And this is where most discussion of consumerization stops.
The discussion focuses on how we can make the devices secure, enforce encryption, remote wipe, add lots of compliance monitoring …
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.
The correct way to look at this is very different.
Instead of thinking about the solution … start with the cause.
‘Our users, the people we exist to serve are voting with their wallets to NOT use what we provide. What we do isn’t working. Yes, we can show that we are meeting security commitments, but the services and technology that we provide is that BAD that people are choosing to buy their own devices, pay for their own services in order to do what they need to do to get their work done. In some cases, they know they may risk disciplinary action, but they still do it. We must be really failing people’.
Once you appreciate this, you can start to understand and envision the solution.
It starts with a mindset change of thinking: ‘what can we do to help people?’
– How can we provide great technology?
– How can we protect performance rather than killing it?
– How can we empower people?
– Yes, we have corporate responsibilities for security, but how are these implemented so as to minimise the impact?
Perhaps there is a simpler summary … ‘how can we get out of the way?’
Those that understand this shift will see consumerisation as an opportunity to redefine both the role and the relationship of internal IT departments. They will become teams that empower people, provide help to get things done. Become a department of ‘yes, here is how you can do that’.
My confidence is in this happening is not high though.
Most IT departments will resist this with every tool at their disposal … wanting to install software remotely wipe my personal PC without my approval is a pretty good testament to this.
But consumerization today is only the start of a this wave of change.
The next step should really concern IT departments … because these users, the people you have failed will next start asking very simple ‘why’ questions about corporate IT. They will ask why things take so long, cost so much, have such poor quality. In the past, people could be baffled with technical excuses, but not more. People now know what is possible because they are using this technology themselves in the own lives (and often in their work without telling you).
– They know a PC from a local store (or more likely a Mac from the Apple Store) is often faster, lighter, and pretty much better in all aspects than what is provided at work.
– They know that software as a service (even the enterprise stuff from companies like Salesforce.com) means that installs are not necessary, the patching is not a problem and that they can connect from any device. And they can get it NOW, not in months or years.
– They know that the cost charged by IT is a joke (checkout the price of memory from Crucial vs internal costs). They know the service is abysmal (Apple again) and they know that it doesn’t need to take 2 years to develop useless internal social tools when there are lots live today (Salesforce.com and every other SaaS provider).
So if you work in corporate IT, you either change, or be made irrelevant.
And a quick tip … after a while of you saying ‘no, it cannot be done’. People will not ask you anymore. They will just get on and do it themselves.
No battle, no fight, no executive show down. They just get on with it.
They will then ask ‘why are we paying for corporate IT’.
And then they won’t be.