Insights and opinions on Information Technology from George Tomko, a veteran CIO turned renegade consultant.


CIOs and the Consumerization of IT

I would have loved to have been the “fly on the wall” the day some product marketing geniuses burst through the conference room (or lab) door and exclaimed that they had discovered the next best thing and it’s called cloud computing!

Now a new name has become popular – consumerization of IT. This will soon be shortened to simply “consumerization”, much like cloud computing became just “cloud” .¬†Consumerization is currently being defined by the marketing departments and at the various conference circuits i.e. Interop and is reaching critical hype mass.

For CIOs and any member of the IT department or function: think broadly — this is less about giving corporate e-mail access to iPhone users or enabling social media through the firewall than it is about federating a governance model within your organizations.

What is IT governance? The question should simply be what is governance? We need to drop the IT out, as if there is or should be (or ever was) a difference from organizational policy and decision making. While you are at it, put less think time into “controls” ¬†directed at the users. Instead, the view needs to be the very system and data models in place and how users, excuse me – “consumers”, are exposed to them.

Because your employees have arms and legs, your company’s data walks into and out of the building every day and has for decades on laptops, cell phones, thumb drives, USB drives or through the VPN to home machines. While you were controlling things by clamping down on BlackBerrys and auto deleting corporate e-mail when the mail box limits were reached, users were forwarding messages to MobileMe, Google, Dropbox, Hotmail.

Look for a lot of articles, posts, conferences, Gartner and Forrester research, etc. on consumerization. Look for vendor hype to include scare tactics that your data is melting right before your eyes! Of course, new products are on the way.

For CIOs: Don’t panic, no knee-jerk is required. Think beyond iPads, iPhones, Android as devices. That gives you the feeling that you can control. Instead, think about the way your business needs to do its business, fundamentally, and work with the business to come up with practical strategies for their consumers.

Bottom line: get to a point where you deeply understand the issues. My bet is that many of you are not there yet. While you are at it, start to become aware of the term “frictionless”.