The consumerization of IT is a disruptive force that many organizations are struggling to come to terms with, especially their IT departments. As R "Ray" Wang recently blogged about this challenge, “technologies available to consumers at low cost, or even for free, are increasingly pushing aside enterprise applications. For IT leaders accustomed to having control over corporate technology, this represents a huge challenge — and it’s one they’re not meeting very well.”
Speed and agility are the most common business drivers for implementing new technology. The consumer technology trifecta of cloud computing, SaaS, and mobility has enabled business users to directly purchase off-premises applications that quickly provide only the features they currently need. Meanwhile, on-premises applications, although feature-rich, become user-poor because of their slower time to implement, and less-than-agile reputation for dealing with change requests and customizations.
However, the organization still relies on some of the functionality, and especially the data, provided by legacy applications, which IT is required to continue to support. IT is also responsible for assisting the organization with any technology challenges encountered when using modern applications. This feature fracture (i.e., the technology supporting business needs being splintered across legacy and modern applications) often leaves IT departments overburdened, and causes them to battle against the disruptive force of business-driven consumer technology.
“IT and business leaders need to work together and operate in parallel,” Wang concludes. “If IT slows down the business capability to innovate, then the company will suffer as new business models emerge and infrastructure will fail to keep up. If business moves ahead of IT in technology, then the company fails because IT will spend years cleaning up technology messes.”
This is the IT Consumerization Conundrum. Although, in the short-term, it usually better services the technology needs of the organization, in the long-term, if it’s not properly managed and integrated into the IT Delivery strategy of the organization, then it can create a complex web of technology that entangles the organization much more than it enables it.
Or to borrow the words of Ralph Loura, it can “cause technology to become a business disabler instead of a business enabler.”