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The Consumerization of IT

The BBC asked Oliver Bussman, SAP's Chief Information Officer (CIO) three questions, starting with "What's your biggest technology problem right now?" It's a question that every IT leader should ask, in planning for the future. Bussman provides a concise answer:

In my opinion it is the consumerisation of IT.

By this I mean that technology trends are driving technology adoption, I tend to say "lifestyle is becoming work style", end-user demands are shaping the IT strategy.

As CIO it is my job to make sure our employees can take advantage of new technology quickly. I have to stay ahead of the trends. We were one of the first larger companies to adopt the iPad, which had made us a major player in the mobile industry.

This thought was echoed by InfoWorld Magazine, in How the App Store reshapes IT's priorities.

The InfoWorld article is primarily about managing risk. Their advice:

For IT, deny-by-default is standard operating procedure. Aimed at minimizing risk, this policy has IT's hand up to prevent end-users from installing any and all nonstandard software. From an IT security perspective, deny-by-default is sound practice. For fostering innovation? Not so much.

To succeed going forward, IT must become a successful steward, rather than owner, of technology. It must encourage innovation at every level, right down to the end-user. It must support "single-actor practices" rather than simply enacting global policies. And to do so, you're going to need IT/business integration, not alignment. Becoming an integral part of the enterprise, and not just a service provider to it, is essential, because nothing IT does from now on stands on its own. Everything -- people, processes, tools, and technology -- will be wired together to reinforce each other in service of the business mission.

The article goes on to talk about Apple's App Store, and the iPad, as a way to drive IT change, turning traditional "deny-by-default" on its end.

But the statement "IT must become a successful steward, rather than owner, of technology" rings with me. It is a concise statement to where IT is headed today.

How is your IT organization a "steward" of technology? Does your organization look to how your users are consuming technology, and finding innovative ways to deliver that technology to your users?