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Consumerization of IT Does NOT Equal BYODApril 2, 2012
by John Dasher
It amazes me how often I read articles, often by respected industry folk, that confuse the Consumerization of IT with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Philippe Winthrop over at the Enterprise Mobility Forum is one of the few I’ve seen get it right. So what is the difference?
The difference is simple. The CoIT describes employees expecting to quickly leverage tools/solutions/technologies with near-frictionless availability and extreme ease of use, while BYOD is literally employees bringing their own devices into the workplace.
Frictionless availability is nicely encapsulated in “there’s an app for that”. If a user doesn’t have what they need, they simply go and get it. With or without IT. And if we’re being honest, IT often equates to friction from an employee’s viewpoint. Mobile apps are feature-focused – the best ones tend to do a few things really well, rather than many things so-so, making reading manuals or even help files a thing of the past. More fuel for short attention spans.
BYOD is fine and well, but organizations need to define boundaries around which apps are allowed on what devices. Email and calendar and fine, and should be universally available for your employees, but that doesn’t mean you need to support custom apps for every platform that enters the building.
Rather than viewing BYOD from a reactionary posture, let’s work to embrace what mobile is capable of being.
Perhaps the bigger question is – why does it matter, anyway? Seldom does a product not benefit when the principles of good design are applied, and the demands of consumerization force the issue. Remember when there was “enterprise grade” and “consumer grade”? Enterprise grade was robust, fully-featured, and secure, while consumer grade was viewed as a toy. Macs were the constant example of great design that influenced and informed employees of what computing could be. Today, consumer products like the iPad lead the way in usability, putting many “enterprise grade” products to shame. By re-evaluating old assumptions, better solutions emerge for both employee and employer.
At the end of the day, what’s really exciting are the applications that are starting to emerge that solve problems in ways that are uniquely mobile. Solutions that aren’t simply a desktop port to mobile with some touch screen user interface affordances, but truly solve a problem that would otherwise continue to fester. We’re just starting to see great examples of such solutions, and they inspire in a way that I haven’t felt in technology for over a decade.
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