In late 2010, Stephen Prentice, a Gartner fellow and vice president, wrote a Gartner CEO advisory titled "Seize the iPad Opportunity Now." But as early as 2005, he had written: "As perceptive CIOs seek to transform their rigid, legacy ridden infrastructures into agile, efficient, service-driven delivery mechanisms, they must adopt a pragmatic approach to managing the risks of consumer IT while embracing the benefits. Otherwise, the CIOs risk being sidelined as the 'enemy' by their constituencies."
In 2005, the idea promoted by Gartner that consumerization would be the most important trend of the next decade might have been controversial. But traction from the iPhone, which went from 0% adoption to 80% of Fortune 100 companies between June 2008 and June 2010, undeniably demonstrates the powerful impact of this trend.
Even so, Philippe Winthrop, founder and managing director of the Enterprise Mobility Foundation, believes that the mobile consumerization trend demonstrated by the iPhone (and now the iPad) is subtly different from the general trend of consumerization.
According to Winthrop, "The consumerization of enterprise mobility is slightly nuanced from the consumerization of general IT. First and foremost, the price points make mobile devices far more accessible than other computing devices. Second, the massive diversity of applications, and the ease of purchase and installation of these applications is very different from what IT departments are typically used to. Forward-thinking companies have recognized the opportunity to embrace, as opposed to fight, this change and use it to their advantage. True ROI is still elusive in many cases, but there is no question that the future of the workplace is predicated on the use of mobile devices and applications."
How Hyatt embraced the "consumerization of IT" relationship But what does the "consumerization of IT" actually mean to a corporate leader of information technology? In my search for a clear definition of this concept, one of the best explanations I've heard was from Mike Blake, the CIO of Hyatt Hotels. He shared with me the journey that Hyatt went through to both recognize and then ultimately embrace this trend of consumerization with the iPad. In Blake's words:
I believe Blake has demonstrated that the "consumerization of IT" is ultimately a positive trend for corporations. It may involve painful changes in the status quo of corporate IT, including, as Blake said, how IT groups have to "shed our arrogance" to give the underlying technology a chance to succeed. But this trend provides the business, the entire company, and even the whole economy with an improvement in efficiency, productivity, and profit.