Despite what many people think, BYOD does not equal consumerization!

Many people use the terms "BYOD" and "consumerization of IT" interchangeably. These two terms, however, do not mean the same thing.

Many people use the terms “BYOD” and “consumerization of IT” interchangeably. These two terms, however, do not mean the same thing. Of course they are related, and if we define them, then any given scenario, product, or IT strategy can be assessed using BYOD and consumerization as two independent variables.

Plot the scenarios on a graph and you get this:

I’m working with these assumptions:

Consumerization, in this case, referes to device native applications, SaaS, corporate app-stores—using a shiny new device to do work all the same old ways is not consumerization, (though as you can see on the graph, this can fall under BYOD).

BYOD refers to situations where users can freely bring in a device any time they want and access corporate resources, without onerous device management restrictions.

Let’s take a closer look at the different scenarios on the graph and why they’re placed where they are.

What is both consumerization and BYOD friendly?

This is the magical land where data is managed instead of devices, touch-screen device-native apps abound, and the kids run around with their Facebook and their Twitter and their complicated shoes... No, wait, this can actually exist, and people can actually use these tools to get real work done. Examples:

  • A company decides to provide device native (read: touch based for tablets and smartphones) applications to users on any device. Access and security is built-in, around the data, not around the device.
  • Users can bring in any computer they want and have access to company resources (yeah, right...but this probably is already happening anyway). Maybe they get to log into a corporate file syncing service that has a local client, they use other locally executed apps that are synchronized in the cloud.

What is consumerization friendly but locked down?

In these scenarios, all the consumer tools and techniques are support, just not on their own devices. This is great for situations where tablet or smartphone apps make sense, but the organization isn’t allowed to be quite so free with its data. For example:

  • A company provides device native apps, but only allows them on corporate-managed devices (or on personal devices that are so heavily MDM’d that the users regret bringing in their devices in the first place).

What is BYOD but still old school?

This is what happens when organizations want to jump on the BYOD bandwagon, but don’t think things out. In this case, the consumerization part of the equation is probably already in place thanks to the concept of FUIT. Examples:

  • Tablets and smartphones abound. Since their are no corporate apps provided, the users either bought all their own apps (probably violating some part of their contracts by using unauthorized cloud services as well) or they are under-utilizing their tablets by only working in the browser.
  • A company decides to not manage employee’s physical desktops, allowing BYOC. What do the employees get instead of corporate desktops? Another desktop, except it’s VDI this time. Since it’s virtual now, it means that the experience isn’t as good, especially when the employees are working out of the office. But hey, at least the employees get to access thier new not-as-great desktops from sleek, shiny, personal Macbooks.

What is locked down and old school?

The Powers believe that iPads are a passing fad and that everybody should be happy with a BlackBerry. Some examples:

  • Any company with executives that refer to employees under 30 as “those punk kids.” 
  • A company announces that BYOD is now permitted (or maybe even required!). Unfortunately, every device is locked down, and the company doesn’t provide any cool device native apps. Maybe they provide a remote desktop client, but since using a Windows desktop on an iPhone is about as fun as a root canal, employees couldn’t care less that they got to bring in their own device. This might as well be called an “employees foot the phone bill” program. This will encourage the users to resort to FUIT techniques.

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" the company doesn’t provide any cool device native apps."

Can you give an example of what types of apps a company might want to provide? I feel we're lurking towards the "locked down, old school" quadrant, but not sure what we can do to at least move more towards consumerization.


I'm thinking things like document management apps to get the latest collateral out to salespeople, CRM applications, applications that can make database queries, expense report apps—anything that puts information at users' fingertips without having to pull out a laptop, log on to a web-app, or log on to a VDI environment. The feature sets are different—instead of giving all of the options, if the apps are well thought-out they give users access to what they need while mobile (or offline, too) with just a few taps.

This video from CES <> SAP's CIO Oliver Bussman mentions some of their tablet apps and how they're used (from about 3'00" to 4'55").

Tomorrows article is also going to cover Taptera, a company making mobile apps for the enterprise.

And along these lines, maybe I should put out a survey or something, along the lines of "what apps are your company providing for you?"


Good article Jack. I agree with the concepts you are covering but come at it from a slightly differnt angle. Some of the graphed definitions from the chart may not be as cut and dry as described here.

I don't think Consumerization is so much about an exact answer as in "device native applications and shiny devices" (I appreciate this was just an example on the v1.0 chart).

Consumerization is understood, in more general terms, to be IT concepts and innovations that first emerge or are applied in the consumer market and then spread into the business world bringing about a cultural shift or change in ideas on how the technology can be applied by corporates.

Embracing these changes in most corporates is where the sticking point often occurs as sometimes the ideas we are discussing here are some of the most significant 'cultural' changes that have occurred in the EUC market since the PC. I think its a great shift and companies do want to make the change but want the IT industry to help them get there rather than tell them that 'it's where they need to be'.

As you said, related to the concepts of consumerization, BYOD is one of those paths that companies are looking to take as an enabler of this mind-shift. BYOD however is not as cut and dry as bring any device in unmanaged. In small companies such as the office you guys work in, perhaps this is an easy win which is great, but most major corproates aren't ready or able to shift from a fully managed and controlled corporate device model to an open-book BYOD in the way that you descibed overnight. A lot of the time we need to help the companies on the journey from A to Z.

VDI is a great way of starting this journey towards the utopian state. It is a point on the journey that companies understand now, and are able to visualise getting to in order to move along the path.

Think about how long it has taken for VDI to make inroads, or how the market shift in mindset from private infrastructure to a private or shared cloud model has taken, let alone a public cloud dsicussion. If we now throw into the mix a completely open-book BYO it isn't something that large companies are ready for....

But... they are definately looking to try BYOD, at least from the position of 'old school' as you describe, although i don't beleive this is old school. This is almost like first generation BYO. It will get better and more free and relaxed with gen 2 and 3, but these are massive cultural shifts for companies to undertaken and they need to find their feet and be comfortable.

The key point you hit on is the apps. The apps, and specifically apps harnessing the full native capabilities of the devices they are served to is what we all want to see and aspire to. This will take time and be tough. Sometimes we are talking about companies with, even after rationalisation, hundreds of applications where a large number would need to be re-engineered to take advantage of the native capabilities of the devices hitting the market. In this economic climate companies aren't going to invest in converting all of their apps to take advantage of touch screen capability.

These shifts take time and the corporates will find their way there, making small inroads into the BYOD, application re-engineering, and other consumerization areas.

Though provoking article Jack, good one, but perhaps we need a version 2 of the chart..

Excellent site guys, really enjoying the articles...


Nice article. My own graphical interpretation of relationship between CoIT & BYOD at