The tyranny of consumerization. Really?

Is iPad 2 the tyranny of consumerization incarnate?

A headline on Computerworld this morning caught my eye: Apple’s iPad 2 provokes IT anxiety. I can imagine the iPad stirring up a lot of reactions — including mere indifference — but anxiety? That seems incongruous. Unless maybe you’re HP, Motorola or Samsung.

But the article starts off with, “As exciting as the new iPad 2 is bound to be for both consumers and business users, some IT executives who will have to support the second-generation Apple tablet are already cringing.” They’re concerned that the new features and apps “will likely lure many business users to try out the new device.”

“Generally speaking, the massive numbers of workers who are using consumer-focused products like tablets and smartphones for business tasks are already forcing their will on IT shops and the corporations they serve.”

And then there’s this:

“I have coined this ‘the tyranny of consumerization,'” said Dave Codack, vice-president of employee technology and network services at TD Bank Financial Group in Toronto. Codack’s group supports some 81,000 workers at the financial services firm.

Codack is not a Luddite, not even close, and says his IT staffers “seem to be excited” about the new dual camera feature, the dual processor,the improved graphics and the lighter weight of the iPad 2. “I believe this translates into additional perceived benefit for end users,” he said.

But, Codack quickly added that, “Frankly, the newer technology is making these devices more consumer oriented. With employees using these devices in their day-to-day lives, it’s inevitable they will expect enterprise support to eventually bridge these two worlds, which will put pressure on the internal technology organization to step up.”

He call the process a form a tyranny because “the enterprise is not dictating technology with these devices, the revolt is coming from the end user community.”

Now, I appreciate that new technologies like iPhones and iPads change the expectations of what IT must support — or, in some cases, are simply taken out of the loop of supporting. And, fair enough, those new expectations may not be what IT would have wanted to deal with relative to the rest of their agenda.

But if you’re a technology professional — your life and your career are all focused on technology — surely you have to expect change like this. Even if you can’t predict or control it. You’re at least ready to accept it, if not outright embrace it for the new innovation it enables.

It would be kind of like a marketer decrying the tyranny of the customer in the new age of the Interwebs. “They want to visit our web site any time of the day, expect it be up and running, have the latest content. They expect to find us on Google and Bing. They even expect to find us on Facebook and Twitter — and then they actually expect us to respond when they talk to us!”

What do you think?

P.S. I can’t help but think of the recent 37signals post: The end of the IT department.

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2 thoughts on “The tyranny of consumerization. Really?”

  1. Great post as always. IT departments need to “enable” technology adoption not prevent it.
    There is an opportunity for a new business model here. A middleman service that supports the predominate mobile technology platforms on behalf of the enterprise. Users buy their fancy doodads and this middleman connects it to corporate e-mail and calendaring in a secure way. It could be paid for my the users with the enterprise having the opportunity to subsidize some of the cost.
    Is anyone doing this? If not, let’s start developing!

  2. Perfect analogy at the end of the article, Scott! How dare these users bring in tools that make their day-to-day work more efficient.
    Although I see this thinking even outside of IT with other areas of the business who are totally unwilling to accept change.
    But like you said, as a technology professional, you have to imagine you’d be open to new technologies, no matter what the source. However sometimes I think IT has a tendency to shun ideas if they are not their own.

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