Preparing for Consumerization of IT

Microsoft commissioned a research report a few months ago to gauge how enterprises are approaching the consumerization trend ("IT Managers Selectively Embrace Consumerization", Forrester Research, Dec. 2010). The report gives insight into how businesses are accommodating various aspects of consumerization into the workplace today, as well as their plans for the future. But in terms of preparing for the challenge of consumerization, I think the report brings up three important realities:
1) Ninety-five percent of IT managers have experienced end user interest in consumerization. If you haven’t had users asking for access to corporate resources from their personal devices, then you are in a very small minority. It is a nearly universal desire on the part of business users to use personal devices in the workplace. IT is going to need to deal with this groundswell, and existing IT policies and practices are not designed to meet this challenge.
2) 2011 and 2012 are the years in which most IT managers are targeting broader embrace of consumerization. While 36% of IT managers cited security, compliance, and management as reasons that they are not interested in bring your own computer (BYOC) efforts or have no plans for embracing it, 40% of these same decision-makers reported that they’ll revisit these policies within the next two years. The timeframe on this change is incredibly aggressive compared to traditional IT schedules – reflecting, in a sense, the impact of faster consumer technology cycles on the enterprise timetable. So not only are you going to have to change the way IT is approaching security, compliance, and management to meet your universal demand– you’re going to have to do it much more quickly than you may have anticipated.
3) An overwhelming 83% of IT managers embraced desktop and/or application virtualization as a means to enable their BYOC programs. This is the silver lining that IT can look to when thinking about how to prepare for consumerization. There are already fantastic tools available that can make this transition easier – tools that you are going to want to use because they make IT more efficient across the board. Desktop and application virtualization are key, as are cloud services and the ability to provide unified management across heterogeneous devices. As you build out your policies for dealing with a world where corporate and personal resources are going to coexist, Microsoft System Center, VDI, and Cloud solutions can make it easier to put these plans into action.
In thinking about your own IT organization, how does this study align with your own plans of approaching consumerization? What steps is your organization taking to work through security, compliance, and management challenges? What new policies are you putting into place? We’d love to hear your comments.
You can find the full report – along with a whole host of other consumerization resources – at www.microsoft.com/consumerization.
Andrew Conway
Director
System Center Product Management