Consumerisation of technology: Curse or Cure? (3/3)

By Mark Helme


Date 19 March 2011 Tags

In Part 2 we provided some rules of thumb to show how organisations can harness the enthusiasm of users to create new and valuable applications of its technologies, and in Part 1 we discussed how organisations can create value from the consumerisation of traditional IT.

In this part we are going to look at some of the management disciples needed to deal with the consumerisation of IT.

Management disciplines:

Now we move on to look at how the consumerisation of IT needs to be incorporated into the IT strategy. We start by reviewing the business rules that were developed in the old model (e.g., control and command, everything inside the moat, the IT department as policemen, not enablers).

As IT is consumerised there are likely to be implications for the incentive model (budgets and charge-out approaches) as users and cost centre managers have choices, rather than being the passive recipients of centrally determined and designed systems. This will also impact third party contracts, IT portfolio investment management (new development, retirement, and enhancement), the innovation process as well as approaches to regionalisation. The security model is also likely to need to be updated to build a new trust, authentication and connectivity framework, treating the device, not the enterprise periphery, as the locus of security.

The choices that users make in the use and deployment of consumerised IT must be reflected in the economic costs to the organisation. Traditionally IT costs were incurred centrally and some sort of charge back or allocation mechanism told different parts of the organisation the cost of the services they were offered but gave few signals to help them optimise their economic use of IT. This didn’t matter when choice was limited but once IT is consumerised it becomes important to develop provisioning and charge-out policies to enable users (and their managers) to make rational economic decisions concerning their use of technology, and to provide the means for them to save or spend as needed. In this way the same market signals that ensure that the cost and value of consumer offerings match the desires of the consumer will be available to the organisation.

The consumerisation of IT also affects services and not just technology

Once consumers concentrate on the service as delivered at the point of use, it becomes easier to consider deploying those emerging “good enough” solutions in the consumer space. This enables user communities to challenge the costs of some incumbent solutions, such as e-mail and in many cases allows IT to re-think the physical network model by taking advantage of the public infrastructure.

A different support model for consumerisation may be needed

Not all user segments will have the same requirements (or even wants) as regards technology; they will certainly have different support requirements. Some support may be directed at communities (segments) rather than individual users, and in some cases it may be appropriate to move to a low cost self support model for some applications (e.g. Google search to complement the help desk). The incentive model will have to be aligned here too.

The IT Ecosystem

Consumerisation will significantly impact the IT ‘ecosystem’, whether you like it or not. While it is easy to get started, don’t forget the IT ecosystem is likely to evolve into a combination of mandated and elective elements that provides users with greater flexibility whilst maintaining corporate standards and appropriate security. Managing this evolving ecosystem will be assisted by incumbent vendors embracing open standards, and will drive the supplier strategies too.

Infrastructure integration

Consumer technology investment is often a lightweight overlay to existing infrastructure. While they may appear ‘disruptive’ and offer a challenge to an organisation, and perhaps its dominant culture, they are not necessarily technically complex to implement. They often build a relatively lightweight overlay to the existing infrastructure and may not require complex integration. Starting down this road doesn’t mean having to radically reshape existing systems.

And finally

Living on the Web

Sounds like an empty phrase but actually encapsulates a potentially valuable approach to creating a flexible workforce. To “Live on the Web” means not just web-enabling the existing applications, but taking a role-based view of the users needs to ensure that everything they require is available over the web. This does not just allow mobile staff and home workers to be more effective but frees the organisation from the physical constraints of fixed offices. This flexibility allows more freedom to redeploy staff, shift premises and reconfigure organisations as required. Clearly this will not apply to everyone – but the segmentation should identify the appropriate groups.

Click here for more points of view on Consumerisation.

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