The consumerization of IT took off in 2012, making end users more productive, IT administrators more concerned and major vendors more uncertain about their future.
A slew of new mobile devices pushed the bring your own device (BYOD) trend to new heights this year. New cloud storage and file-sharing services popped up everywhere you looked. And cutting-edge technologies previewed what the future may hold. These events marked the beginning of an exciting but disruptive era in IT.
Check out the year's top consumerization of IT news stories to relive everything that happened and get ready for 2013:
10. Google Drive makes enterprise waves
Google entered the increasingly crowded cloud storage and file-sharing market in April. Google Drive's integration with Google Docs earned it a look from many business users -- and opened up another can of worms for IT. Drive raised the traditional concerns about data security, but admins also had to deal with file format compatibility issues in October, when Google announced it would end Docs support for .doc, .xls and .ppt files.
9. Microsoft 'Kinects' the dots
These days, touchscreen inputs are about as forward-thinking as enterprise computing devices get. But Microsoft gave us a glimpse of the future this year by releasing Kinect for Windows, which will bring the Xbox 360's voice- and gesture-based video game controls to PCs. The technology, which is still years away, could have far-reaching implications for user authentication, telecommunications and employee productivity.
8. iPhone 5 debuts
After months of speculation, Apple finally unveiled the iPhone 5 in September. The device featured a taller screen and faster processor, which were big hits with consumers. Its networking features, such as support for LTE networks and the 5 GHz wireless band, were a mixed bag for IT, however. The iPhone 5 also shipped with iOS 6, whose new iCloud features make it easier for users to store data in the cloud -- another enterprise concern.
7. RIM's struggles continue
Sent reeling by the consumerization of IT, Research In Motion (RIM) did little publicly to turn around its fortunes in 2012. Co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis stepped down in January. New RIM CEO Thorsten Heins immediately raised eyebrows with several out-of-touch comments in a YouTube video. And planned changes to the company's device management strategy, such as the shift from BlackBerry Enterprise Server to BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, troubled enterprise customers. Behind the scenes, RIM worked on its next-generation operating system, BlackBerry 10. Most experts agree it's the company's last chance to regain a foothold in the market.
6. Holy Grail of iPad management discovered
Say what you will about managing mobile devices like they're PCs, but that's how some desktop admins approach it. One of the big roadblocks to that goal -- the inability to control end users' iPads remotely -- vanished this year when Apperian updated its EASE Platform for mobile application management. The new feature lets IT pros request access to a user's iPad through an online portal and, once it's approved, troubleshoot problems or configure settings.
5. BYOD gotchas pop up
BYOD was one of 2012's biggest tech buzzwords, and some organizations hit snags as they tried to embrace the trend. Many IT pros thought they'd save money by allowing end users to bring their own smartphones and tablets to work, but they found out that wasn't the case. Training, buying additional software and other factors ate away at potential BYOD cost savings. Some IT shops also had to upgrade their wireless networks to accommodate all the new devices and their bandwidth demands.
4. Apple befriends the enterprise
Consumer electronics giant Apple made a few business-friendly moves under the radar in 2012, recognizing the growing popularity of the iPhone and iPad in the enterprise. Apple Configurator debuted in March, offering some basic iOS device management features for free. And Apple acquired a significant amount of mobile device security technology when it bought biometrics firm AuthenTec in August.
3. Microsoft gets into hardware, MDM
The consumerization of IT trend led Microsoft to move into a few new areas this year. In April, the company added iOS and Android mobile device management (MDM) capabilities to Windows Intune, its cloud-based desktop management tool. Microsoft's jump into the MDM market, while significant, was a drop in the bucket compared to what happened in June. That's when the company announced Surface, a new line of Microsoft-manufactured tablets. The news rubbed some of Microsoft's PC manufacturer partners the wrong way, and IT shops had many concerns about the Surface as well.
2. Dropbox security concerns persist
For better or worse, Dropbox is the first name in consumer cloud storage and file-sharing services. Whenever another vendor comes out with a business-oriented competitor -- which seemed to happen every week in 2012 -- it's called an "enterprise version of Dropbox." The downside of this visibility is that the company finds itself under a microscope when things go wrong. A possible Dropbox breach in June put enterprise concerns about cloud security back in the spotlight. Later in the year, when the company announced deeper integration with third-party apps, some IT pros feared it would take away more of their control over corporate data.
1. Still no Office for iPad
End users itching for a mobile version of Microsoft Office had two choices this year: Buy a Windows 8 or Windows RT tablet, or wait until 2013. As 2012 comes to a close, there is still no Office for iOS or Android. It should be here by early next year, but by then, will once-eager customers have found viable alternatives? Microsoft's plans to tie Office for iOS and Android into Office 365 subscriptions, which can get pricey, will be another issue to watch in the new year.