Let’s take another look at the changing role of IT. Which won’t be the last time, because trends like the proliferation of employee-owned devices, the mobile workforce and the freelance economy are creating unrelenting disruptions in the enterprise. CIOs — and, by proxy, the entire IT organization — will either lead efforts to capitalize on these trends and create value, or find themselves left behind.
IT meets the free world
These days, many people speak as if Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is something new. It’s actually just the latest wave of a macro-trend called “Consumerization” of IT.
Years ago, while working for a large IT company, I needed the ability to modify some graphics and use them in a way that the corporate-issued software just wouldn’t allow. After a little investigation, I purchased a software application for $30 out of my own pocket and installed it on my corporate computer. It worked wonderfully. I was able to produce results of higher quality and in less time. It didn’t cost the company anything. I was satisfied. Customers were happier. And in my world the sunshine was brighter and the birds chirped a little more nicely. But no one identified this as a trend called Bring Your Own Application (BYOA).
The next phase of Consumerization rolled in as a big wave. As competition drove the commoditization of technology hardware, marketing shifted away from businesses and governments to consumers — who could now afford the latest, greatest technology. And Bring Your Own Device was born.
We all know the rest of the story. The topic got lots of attention, including what we should do about things like security. There was also a great deal of hand wringing about giving up control. But the way it is going — just like with the spread of democracy — once end users experience freedom it is difficult, if not impossible, to take it away.
Bring your own value
So what’s the sequel? With the freedom users gain from bringing their own devices to work also comes the ability to freely choose apps, data resources and mashups — and with these come new processes. Bring Your Own Process (BYOP) will constitute the next wave, and business leaders may recognize its arrival before IT does.
Given this direction — and the fact that many organizations are allowing or even encouraging employees to work remotely, a la Bring Your Own Office (BYOO) — skipping to end game we might as well call it Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT), or even Bring Your Own Everything (BYOE) as we shift to an economy of freelance workers.
IT leaders will not serve themselves well by resisting this inevitable transformation. Instead, they will need to let go of the lower-value activities that they have traditionally performed. IT has more valuable things to do, such as focusing on enabling a wider and more secure digital business ecosystem and platforms that allow customers, partners and associates to communicate, collaborate and transact more securely and effectively.
Questions to Consider
- Which IT activities should your organization stop doing?
- If BYOD has impacted your organization, do you see this as an opportunity or a threat?
- Are you regularly having conversations about the impact of macro-trends like Consumerization (beyond BYOD) will have on your business in the future?