by Tom Kaneshige

Consumerization of IT: The Next E-Commerce?

Jun 25, 20122 mins
Consumer ElectronicsLaptopsSmartphones

Eventually the consumerization of IT movement will go the way of e-commerce and just be something everybody has.

A few years from now, will we still be talking about the consumerization of IT? Practically every company supports some sort of smartphone, laptop or tablet that was designed for consumers, not the enterprise.

In the smartphone space, the big enterprise maker, RIM, is in a death spiral. Meanwhile, consumers are absolutely giddy about the iPhone 5 expected in October. The Apple iPhone is the touchscreen face that launched a thousand Androids, to the chagrin of IT.

Laptops are the only real piece of real estate companies and their IT departments can cling to, yet even this is changing as the computing world moves toward tablets. Perhaps the greatest consumer device in recent years, the iPad rules the tablet market. Microsoft’s Surface is poised to enter the market in the fall.

So is consumerization of IT a foregone conclusion?

My guess is that the idea of consumerization of IT will go the same route as e-commerce. In the days before the dot-com bust, everyone was talking about e-commerce. Secure shopping carts were the new thing. Magazines and other media sprouted up to cover the emerging trend.

Today, nobody talks about e-commerce. Why? Because everyone is doing it. You’d be hard-pressed to find a retailing Web site that doesn’t sell products online. The technology has matured to the point where most of us don’t worry much about the safety of the transaction.

Which brings me to another similarity between the two.

Security vendors tried to scare us with horror stories about insecure e-commerce transactions. Our credit cards and identity were at risk, they said. Oddly, identity theft still mostly occurs when our physical credit cards, postal mail or trash containing confidential information has been stolen – not very digital at all.

Now security vendors and IT departments are trying to scare companies about insecure consumer mobile devices tapping into the corporate network and transacting with sensitive data. They’re calling for draconian policies to wipe machines if they even suspect that they could be compromised.

Another bugaboo? Probably. But if consumerization of IT does follow in e-commerce’s footsteps, all this hand-wringing will end soon enough. That’s when consumer smartphones, laptops and tablets will be as ubiquitous in the enterprise as cubicles and air conditioning.