Consumer Devices and Platforms vs. IT: A Trend to Watch

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 10, 2012

Many people who work in large organizations where they are subject to the rule of IT departments are already very familiar with being restricted from using Android phones and devices, tablets, and other technologies that are primarily favored by consumers. For that matter, many IT departments disallow open source applications and platforms on company-issued devices. As 2012 begins, these trends may begin to change dramatically, opening up many new business and organization-driven opportunities for open source software. Some open source pundits are calling the trend the "consumerization" of information.

Savio Rodrigues points to how the consumerization trend is affecting IT departments:

"It's only a matter of time until the consumerization of IT bleeds over from your non-IT employees into your IT department. Although this may sound far-fetched, iPad-like systems such as appliances and workload-optimized systems are finding a foothold in your data center, and the trend has only started."

Actually, it doesn't sound far-fetched. There were many key periods in the rise of PCs when the standardly accepted power balance between IT departments and users were strongly questioned. For example, when Novell and others debuted early Local Area Network (LAN) technology, lots of departments implemented the solutions without even approaching their IT overlords. 

In InfoWorld, Galen Gruman makes the following good point:

"You can blame the iPhone, and Facebook, but the truth is that business itself has driven the shift to employe-directed tech."

Indeed, as Gruman points out, ever since the 1960s, the relationship that workers have with their technologies has become more personal, with users asserting their rights. The trend toward "consumerization" of information was first used here on OStatic by Brian Gentile, CEO of Jaspersoft, in a guest column, where he wrote:

"Simply put, enterprise information systems are beginning to require a simpler, more consumer-oriented approach to appeal to the younger generation of up-and-coming workers. I refer to it as the 'consumerization of information.'  The concept is based on a very real workforce demographic shift that becomes even more pronounced starting in 2009. As the aging workforce in the largest economies continues to retire (in the U.S., it’s the baby boomer generation) and more young workers enter and climb higher, we’ll see a widening 'expectation gap' between the anticipated behavior of enterprise applications and their actual behavior."

Here in 2012, this trend has more momentum than ever, and will be especially pronounced with devices and platforms that people are passionate about, such as iPads and Android devices. IT will have no choice but to bless these technologies for business usage, and there are good opportunities ahead for security solutions for popular non-IT-sanctioned devices. For more on how this trend affects Android users, in particular, see this post.