Understanding the “Consumerization of IT” Movement

consumerization_of_it_understanding

Earlier this week, we met with Ian Finley, a veteran industry analyst with Gartner. It was our first meeting with Ian, and it was enlightening on multiple fronts. Ian’s a smart fellow for sure.

If you’re not familiar with what technology industry analysts do, they essentially do what you might already imagine. They research the technologies that large and small companies use and say they need. And they research what small and large technologies companies are building and say other companies need. Then they do a little fancy math and publish research reports about various technology markets and future trends. I’m oversimplifying things, but you get the general idea.

One of the key trends that we find extremely fascinating is what Gartner calls the “Consumerization of IT“. You may have heard or read something about this. In short, the consumerization of IT means that more and more often, non-technical end users (i.e., HR managers, marketing execs, sales professionals, etc.) are influencing what technologies companies are using to run their business. A simple example is the iPhone. For years, many company IT departments wouldn’t support the iPhone, meaning employees couldn’t access the company network or even their email from their iPhone. But as more employees brought iPhones to work and insisted on using them instead of company-issued Blackberry phones, pressure mounted on IT to support iPhones. Eventually, IT relented and started to support iPhones. Once again, I’m over simplifying things, but you get the idea.

The idea of the consumerization of IT trend excites us because that’s exactly what TrackVia is all about on the business software front. Our solution is about giving business users the ability to easily find, buy and deploy software that they design and build versus having to rely solely on company-wide solutions already provided by IT (e.g., Sharepoint, Access, Excel, etc.). And many of our customers are front-line business people who take the personal initiative to find our solution and deploy it within their department or company. In some cases, they’re using TrackVia as an alternative to a solution implemented by IT.

Of course, we don’t believe this is about a power struggle between business end users and IT. IT plays a critical role – and perhaps a more important role than ever. In fact, many of our customers are IT departments at large companies who buy TrackVia and deploy it within their company. In doing so, they ensure the technology is safe and secure, while empowering their end users to build the custom applications they need to run their department or organization more efficiently. The benefit to IT is that they can offload a lot of the department-level requests to build customer apps, while helping the business by empowering users to do it themselves.

Gartner predicts that 25 percent of all enterprise software with be developed by “citizen developers” – or end users. That’s 25 percent of a $267 BILLION market. I’m pretty sure the Oracles or Salesforces of the world aren’t losing any sleep over this, but it’s certainly something interesting to think about.

How about you? Are you seeing signs of the “consumerization of IT” in your organization?

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