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Consumerize This: Supporting consumer devices and cloud

Last updated:June 2013

Editor's note

The consumerization of the enterprise means different things to different people, so it can be a controversial subject -- and everyone has their own opinions.

At SearchConsumerization, we were curious about what IT pros in the trenches really think about this trend. That's how the Consumerize This series of Q&As was born. Check out what interviewees said about consumerization, how it affects their work, what they're doing about it (if anything) and more.

If you're an IT pro who wants to share your experiences with consumerization in a future Q&A, send us an email

1Personal laptop vs. mobile device users

Most organizations these days are still supporting PCs, and IT has to manage those alongside an influx of mobile devices. Some even support bring your own PC programs where users can bring their personal computers to work and access corporate information on them. Learn how one administrator deals with a variety of devices.

2Allowing users' freedom

IT administrators need to walk a fine line between allowing users the freedom to choose and access the devices and applications that they want, while still maintaining their organization's security standards. When users start bringing consumer-grade services into the enterprise, they think they're all the IT experts. You can combat this trend by being selective in what you allow users to access and how you apply policies to certain devices.

3Why workers view IT differently

Most people agree that consumerization has changed the workplace, but it's also changed the way employees view the IT department. Where admins were once the ones bringing new devices and technologies into the enterprise, they're now the ones who often have to veto workers' use of those new tools. But according to Todd Knapp, CEO of Envision Technology Advisors, this new perception of IT is actually a good thing. It encourages departments to keep innovating, which is what the tech world is all about.

4Devices don't matter

Many IT departments get tunnel vision from focusing on how to manage workers' devices, but there's a lot more to consumerization than that. Suzan Pickett, Columbia Sportswear's systems engineering manager, has placed her concern here instead: How do I enable access and get users the apps they need to get work done without endangering corporate data? There are lots of options for this, including dual-persona technology and virtualization.

5When to quit worrying about data leaks

If your company has a lot of secret, mission-critical data, then the thought of a leak could be pretty scary for you. But for organizations that are in the public eye or don't have tons of sensitive data – such as an NBA basketball team – most info is already public. Read what Jay Wessel, VP of technology for the Boston Celtics had to say about how he learned to stop worrying about data leaks and love the cloud.

6How to get ahead of consumerization

Today, consumerization is focused on devices and the cloud, but anything could be around the corner. Solstice Mobile, a consulting and development firm, has an entire movement dedicated to keeping an eye on the future of consumer technology. The company integrates that technology into the workplace so it is already familiar with new gadgets and processes before they become mainstream.

7BYOD doesn't mean 'bring any device'

Just because there is an innumerable stock of devices on the market doesn't mean your IT department has to commit to supporting every single one. At American Nuclear Insurers, IT only supports iOS and Windows Mobile devices. Dan Antion, vice president of information services, said that though the workforce is only about 35 employees, the IT department is only comprised of four people. Supporting every device on the market just isn't within the scope of reason for them.

8Consumerization: A tale of two firms

The consumerization of the enterprise manifests itself differently in every company depending on the size of the business, the kind of data users work with and what industry the business is in. Ernie Huber has worked in two environments with very different approaches to handling consumerization. One, an industrial manufacturer where he was CIO, has a 45,000-person global workforce and a fairly reactive approach to consumer tech. In his new job at Slalom Consulting, with only 2,000 employees, the IT staff has a more open view toward consumer devices and the cloud.