Consumerization doesn’t have to be a four-letter word in the IT department

I got an iPad for Valentine's Day. Can you put my email on it?

"I got an iPad for Valentine's Day. Can you put my email on it?"

"What's our SMTP server name? I want to send email through my Gmail."

"Our employees aren't storing our IP in Dropbox, right?"

These questions are part of daily life for today's IT pro, thanks to the consumerization of IT. Many IT pros hear these questions and think, "I didn't sign up for this."

That reaction is totally understandable.

Consumerization poses a lot of challenges for IT departments. It raises issues around data protection, regulatory compliance, endpoint management, application delivery and more. And whenever someone talks about the benefits, it's always the benefits to end users: how it helps them do their jobs more efficiently, more effectively, from anywhere, at any time. If you're in IT, you're probably asking, "What's in it for me?"

That question came up in a discussion I had last week with Kevin Hart, CEO of Tekserve, an Apple services provider in New York. IT's inclination to reject consumerization is natural, Hart said: "IT organizations just don't understand a consumer device in a corporate environment. Historically, if they can't control it, they don't want it involved."

But by embracing consumerization, IT can position itself as the enabler of all of its end-user benefits. By taking corporate data and systems -- traditionally accessible only by stationary workers on their PCs -- and making them available to more users on more devices in more locations, "IT enhances their value to the organization," Hart said.

That's a really important benefit, especially if your company views your IT department as "a cost center and a necessary evil," as Hart said many do. Finding ways to make consumerization work can make you look better to your bosses, and that's always a good thing.

IT can benefit from consumerization in other ways, too. Take your users' approach and seek out new technology that can help you do your job. There are lots of Android remote control apps and iPad remote administration tools that let you troubleshoot PCs, monitor servers and perform other tasks right from your tablet, for example.

Keep these things in mind the next time a user knocks on your door and asks you to support the latest gadget. You still might ask "What's in it for me?" But now you'll have an answer.

 

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