The new reality: The IT department has to compete against every random app & website out there!

Since the consumerization of IT is a fairly new topic, many of the people I speak to about it aren't too familiar with the phrase. Those who have heard of it tend to think that the consumerization of IT is just about devices and BYOC.

Since the consumerization of IT is a fairly new topic, many of the people I speak to about it aren't too familiar with the phrase. Those who have heard of it tend to think that the consumerization of IT is just about devices and BYOC. While BYOC and iPads are part of the consumerization of IT, they're only a small part—and certainly not the part that keeps a CIO awake at night!

Instead, the real consumerization of IT story as the fact that end user employees can do whatever they want, and not only is IT powerless to stop them,  in most cases IT doesn't even know what the users are doing!

So even though I've been repeating that phrase for months, I realized a few days ago that the fundamental challenge of the consumerization of IT is even more simple than that:

IT departments have to compete with every single website, product, service, and offering on the planet.

Think about it. If the service or application that IT provides isn't as good as what an end user can just go get on their own, then the IT department loses. There's a huge free market with low switching costs, and IT has to compete against everyone.

For example, an IT department might think that they made the "right" move by providing a VDI desktop to iPads. What does the user do? They use it for about a week, think "this sucks," type [Microsoft Office] into the Apple App Store, find QuickOffice, wonder where their files are, find the QuickOffice Dropbox integration, and BAM!—IT just lost another user to Dropbox.

Or an IT department might think they did the right thin by using the Citrix Access Gateway SSL-VPN. It's much easier to use than an old-school IPSec VPN, right? Oh, what's that? There's no iOS or Android client? And...BAM! The end users are now sharing files via Google Drive outside of IT's control.

The examples are endless but all illustrate the crux the issue. No matter what IT provides, if users can find a better service elsewhere, they're going to go for it. So what do you do? Do you try to compete with everyone? Do you try to shut your users down? Do you bury your head in the sand?

This is a big deal. It will soon be time to reevaluate our entire purpose as an IT department.

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this is why I've been spending the past two years saying that IT needs to rearchitect its business model.  It now has competition and has to run itself as such.  That is the major shift that people aren't seeing or planning for.  IT orgs today are under the illusion that the solution to a problem exists in the past, therefore all they have to do is reach back and grab a solution from the "solution shelf" as if they were buying a pair of pants from the ready to wear rack.

Many people have been saying for years that you need to run IT like a business, well guess what?  That day is here and if IT isn't careful, they will be obsolete.


I talked about this issue for the last twelve month. IT departments must change their strategies to an infrastructure 4.0 to support all those end-user needs. Nice article Brain, that's exactly what IT departments have to put on their agenda for the next 6 month. IT departments are profit center not even cost center anymore. They have to offer value add services to their users and have to compete against all other service provider on the market - and that market  is a huge one.



Do you have an answer to "What do you do?"? I'd be interested in your thoughts here.

I don't think IT can compete with everyone everywhere. It's going to have to pick and choose it's battles. Right now, my IT department is running as  "business within a business" but that is only successful because they have a monopoly that is reinforced by our crazy security policies. However, as everything moves to the cloud they won't be able to block the services, traffic, etc, they've done historically and suddenly they won't be the only option anymore.

I have no idea what their role will be once they aren't the monopoly. Will they have to become the enabler and present themselves as the best option for what a user wants to do? How do they do that for every user, and every product? Even Google can't provide the best solution for every product their employees use (see Google+) so how does an IT shop try to compete? Do they pick just the critical services and focus on those? Do they focus just on security and seek to do the best they can? Do they leverage their position within the organization to make demands to maintain the status-quo for a few more years? Or do they become something like a service provider and try to partner with software providers to offer services/apps/etc within a private cloud, so they can maintain a semblance of security while still offering what users want? Or something else entirely?


This isn't a technical issue, but a social one.  Convenience is everything to these users, and security comes second.

We don't just see problems with security and data control in a corporate environment, but with technology in general.  People are lazy and willing to sacrifice their own security for convenience and "fun" - Facebook is a prime example.  If users are willing to sacrifice it for their own safety, do you think they give a damn about the company's well being?  No, they don't care until it affects them and they have no job.

I wish I had a suggestion on what to do, but the answer is NOT technical.  It's psychological.  Period.