18 Oct 2011 Adapting IT policy to respond to the consumerization of IT
It’s been a difficult couple of weeks to RIM. The service disruption in parts of Europe then more recently in the US couldn’t have come at a worse time. With revenues down 10% and profits more than halved, (according to The Economist) it’s a brave IT buyer that backs the Blackberry.
The Blackberry is losing ground for all kinds of reasons. Some blame the odd governance structure of Research in Motion with joint chairmen also acting as joint CEO and the growing competition from the iPhone and Android smart phones is having a significant impact. But RIM’s difficulties are just a single example of how the rapidly moving market for consumer IT is making the job of managing IT policy and IT sourcing more complex.
The consumerization of IT
As the internet has evolved and technology become ubiquitous amongst consumers, new ways of engaging with IT are being proven in the consumer world that are now having an impact on business. The so-called “digital natives”, those people that don’t remember the world before the internet, have arrived in the workplace and as they embrace facebook and twitter style features in the business environment email is being replaced by social media.
It’s hard for business to keep up. It’s not uncommon for users to complain that their computer at home is better than the IT at work and increasingly users demand mobile access to systems and data. “Why should I make an environment threatening journey to the office to use a slow network on a clapped out PC when I can get more done using my iPad and fast broadband at home?”
When behaviour defines IT policy
It’s a dilemma. For all kinds of good reasons including security and support, IT policy has been about standardisation. Policy defined behaviour. But now, behaviour is defining policy and IT buyers and policy makers need to go with the flow on this one and develop imaginative and more flexible ways to support users such as offering staff a budget to buy their own kit. It’s not as daft as it sounds. As long as the corporate applications are web enabled and appropriate security is in place, there’s no reason why IT can’t be treated like a company car.