Is the Consumerization of IT Good for Business?

How can we harness new consumer technology to increase rather than hinder productivity?

The consumerization of IT is part of a growing trend that encompasses bring your own device (BYOD) policies – sometimes referred to as bring your own technology (BYOT), bring your own phone (BYOP), and bring your own PC (BYOPC) initiatives. These terms have been coined in direct response to the new possibilities created by every smaller and more powerful consumer computing and communications gadgets. You no longer have to be a technologist to use the latest technology.

Not long ago, IT departments drove technology adoption. But nowadays, things are very different. The consumerization of IT revolution was sparked largely by the iPhone and its derivatives. These devices are now pretty much ubiquitous: virtually every office worker owns a smartphone. Moreover, the technology is improving so quickly that people are getting new smartphones every 2-3 years just to keep up.

Few corporate IT programs could keep up with such a rapid pace of innovation. Consumers, not IT departments, are now driving technology adoption. And these consumers are using these devices at work, whether they’re officially permitted or not.

The question for businesses becomes this: how can we harness this new consumer technology to increase rather than hinder productivity?

One strategy that has gained traction over the past 3 years in particular is to implement an office-wide BYOD policy. The benefits are clear (link to first blog post): reduced IT costs (no need to purchase new devices), improved worker satisfaction, and – if done right — enhanced productivity.

The risks are real, but manageable. Mobile device security is an issue, but with the right policies and safeguards, this risk can be safely managed (link to second blog post).

And it’s not like companies have a choice. Your employees are already using their personal devices at work. You might not know about it, but they are. Don’t believe me?

A pwc study revealead that while only 40% of IT decision-makers allowed smart mobile devices for business use, 70% of employees were actually using their own devices for business purposes. It’s much better to create an acceptable use framework than to allow the behavior to persists in a policy vacuum – especially considering the growing influence of gadget-savvy millennials in the workforce.

But it’s not just for security’s sake that you need a BYOD policy: it’s good for business too. For example, a Technology Innovation Management Review study of BYOD at The Ottawa Hospital revealed two chief benefits: it helped the entire hospital go completely paperless (making it much easier to access complete patient records), and it improved the timeliness and accuracy of patient care. In order to achieve these benefits, the hospital had to add an extra layer of IT policy and support, but the benefits outweighed the additional costs.

If you’re struggling to keep up with the consumerization of IT, you’re not alone. Technology providers are working hard to develop products and services to help companies manage this transition. And 83% of all organizations in the US had plans to invest in mobile technology in 2015. But most importantly, the majority of these companies (67%) are realizing a positive ROI on their BYOD technology investments.

How is this happening? There are of course cost and labor savings associated with letting employees supply and pay (at least in part) for their own devices. Another (indirect) benefit is the reduction in IT support-related expenses. Consumer devices and apps are far more user-friendly than enterprise hardware and software solutions of years past, so they require much less professional maintenance.

Consumerization shifts IT-related costs to the employee.

Despite all of this, CIOs and IT departments will remain central to success – in fact perhaps more so. Their role will shift from operational support to a more strategic role. Their function will be to implement the right productivity-enabling technology and processes to manage this technology. Their goal will be to find the best solution for each operational unit within the company.

CIOs will no longer have to be firefighters, but instead conductors.

Taking a proactive approach to BYOD will benefit your company in the long term. In fact, after recovering from the perceptions of BYOD-induced fear in 2011, enterprise companies are actually encouraging BYOD adoption. And this sentiment is not limited to technology companies: actually, two of the most highly regulated industries are the most likely to support BYOD: finance and healthcare.

BYOD with BullsEye

BullsEye UC is our office phone solution that lets users take calls, check voicemail, send instant messages, and manage call features through a VoIP connection from ANY device. Visit our website or download the BullsEye UC Overview to learn how we can support your company’s BYOD policies and mobilize your office.

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