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March 18, 2011

Consumerization of Enterprise IT Continues

Workers now report using an average of four consumer devices and multiple third-party applications, such as social networking sites, in the course of their day, according to a study sponsored by Unisys. Also, workers in the survey reported that they are using their own smartphones, laptops and mobile phones in the workplace at nearly twice the rate reported by employers.

In fact, 95 percent of respondents reported that they use at least one self-purchased device for work. Another big change is that where enterprise IT staffs used to assume they were responsible for training and supporting users on enterprise technology, these days many users simply will go ahead and train themselves to use tools they prefer. That also is a big change. 

That "consumerization" of technology is quite a big shift. Decades ago, the pattern of technology diffusion was fairly straightforward. The latest new technology was purchased by large enterprises and large government entities. Over time medium-sized businesses and organizations started to buy the same technology. Later, small businesses and organizations adopted the tools. Finally, some consumers "brought the technology home" and used it as well. 

All of that has changed over the last two decades. These days, many enterprise tools actually were brought into the enterprise by consumers who already had adopted the technology for home use. Email is a good example. So is simple broadband access and mobile phones. Then there are smartphones, instant messaging, blogs, social networking, Google, YouTube (News - Alert), Twitter and tablets. That is a stunning turnabout. 

The survey suggests that more than 40 percent of respondents use instant messaging and text messaging for business; a quarter use blogs and professional online communities for business purposes, and that in most cases, these are the same consumer tools they use outside the business setting. 

These days, that has information technology managers struggling to keep up with users who bring their own technology and preferences into the work setting. Across the board, enterprises report that they expect to increase their use of social networking tools like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (News - Alert) for business purposes over the next 12 months, for example.  Business usage of these applications is expected to grow from 10 percent to 30 percent in the next year, Unisys (News - Alert) said. 

As you might guess, all that improvisation creates issues for enterprise IT staffs. Employees are overwhelmingly willing to buy their own consumer technologies for use at work, yet employers still want to purchase standardized technologies for them. In many cases, workers don't want the "enterprise tools" because they aren't deemed to have the same functionality as the consumer tools. 

Despite employee willingness to buy and train themselves on their own consumer technologies, nearly 70 percent of IT decision-makers report that they continue traditional models to purchase employees’ devices and cover business-related charges.


Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin
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