The iPad's biggest role in business is changing how executives think about technology
One way to look at the consumerization of IT is as a democratization of workplace technology decisions. Executives and employees alike have become much more sophisticated users of technology. Through iPhones and iPads, they see how well-designed devices, platforms, and apps can create enjoyable and, more importantly, productive user experiences. As a result, they don’t tolerate clunky business systems and slow IT responses as much as they did a few years ago.
Many executives and pundits believe this has already changed the balance of power between the CIO/IT management and the CFO and other executives. A recent Gartner survey found that overall, CFOs are leading IT decision-making more than they were just two years ago. One could even argue that in addition to disrupting industries like music and mobile technology, Apple is subtly disrupting IT and business itself (with some help from other tech and business innovators).
A common complaint that I heard earlier this week at the CITE conference in San Francisco was that Apple wasn’t a “real” enterprise vendor. IT professionals have whined and moaned about the fact that Apple doesn’t behave like most enterprise vendors for years (as a long time Mac and Apple IT professional myself, I’ve probably muttered under my breath about Apple’s approach to the enterprise many more times than most of the CITE attendees). What’s changed, however, is that CIOs and other IT leaders can no longer simply say “no” anytime Apple or an Apple product is mentioned.
This week, Apple even reiterated the point by dropping Apple Configurator, a completely new free tool for managing iOS devices in business. It’s a tool that offers new workflows when it comes to how businesses work with iPads (and to a lesser extent iPhones) and Apple released without telling its mobile management partners or its enterprise customers.
To all those IT folks bitching and complaining that Apple doesn’t publish 18-month roadmaps and doesn’t reach out to every enterprise months in advance of a product upgrade or cancelation, I have to say this: deal with it.
A recent study of finance chiefs at over 200 companies revealed that one in six expect the job of CIO to be gone within five years. More than twice that many (40%) expected that IT will eventually be folded into the finance department. This highlights the impact of trends like BYOD, the consumerization of IT, and the growing importance of cloud services.
As IT departments struggle to deal with an ever-increasing influx of iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and other “consumer” technologies, this raises big questions. Would handing management of IT over to a CFO with limited technical experience help or hinder Apple’s position as a business vendor? Would that drive BYOD programs or inhibit them? Would this ultimately be beneficial to most employees at a company?
Earlier this week, it was revealed that energy giant Haliburton is was going to begin a transition that will replace all corporate BlackBerry devices with iPhones.
RIM got more bad news today in the form of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announcing that the federal agency will also be dropping the BlackBerry platform in favor of the iPhone.
Today BYOD and the consumerization of IT aren’t just buzzwords on the horizon, they’re fact of business life and have begun transforming the workplace for millions of professionals. Many solutions exist to deal with managing user-owned mobile devices and integrating them to varying degrees with corporate resources and shared data – something that the explosion of cloud products is helping to drive. Many enterprise cloud solutions (public and private) exist to meet these demands while ensuring data management and security.
Unfortauntely, cloud solutions aren’t limited to the workplace and consumer cloud products including Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox, Box.net, Google Docs and many others have become staple parts of our daily lives. That’s great news for all of as consumers. It gives us access to our files and data anywhere at anytime on almost any device. But consumer cloud technologies pose a big headache for IT professionals who are responsible with keeping business and workplace data both readily available and appropriately secured.