Consumers leading the charge.
With the increasing pace of change in technology, and consumers leading the charge when it comes to IT, we have more information in the public domain than ever before, more complexity and more methods of communication than ever before, so it is not surprising that this power shift to consumer-led IT is unsettling to those used to controlling our infrastructures. We have ever-increasing challenges for our IT departments: For example, ‘bring your own device’, or BYOD, poses really difficult control and governance questions. Not to mention the idea of supporting every hardware device available. <Shudder> The consumerisation of IT is having an enormous impact on our lives and here are 6 ways it is transforming the way we work, communicate with each other and conduct our day-to-day lives.
This post aim to help companies can stay ahead of the game.
1. Losing control
Our wonderful CIOs/CTOs find themselves trying to control the various departmental budget holders, who keep going out and buying SaaS software without consultation or advice, but with perfectly sound reasoning and judgement within their own areas. This, together with the lifting of firewall restrictions for social networking apps, users bringing their own devices, and users requesting new apps or new ways of processing information, makes it amazing that IT keeps any semblance of control over the IT systems in their charge at all.
As a minimum, IT should be providing backbone systems integration services, contract and maintenance support and security services in order to support the business requirements. Ideally the business architecture #bizarch is fully reflected in, and supported by, the IT systems in place.
2. Many more stakeholders to manage.
Everyone is an IT geek these days, and with the empowered user, comes more complex stakeholder management requirements for our IT leaders. Additionally, with more complex IT systems, come more intricate stakeholder relations. Any decision relating to IT is not something an IT department can make alone now: any good business IT decision involves collaboration, negotiation and consensus. Easy, right?!
If IT and Business Strategy come together with the relevant stakeholders to enable the right decisions for the business, this can be very powerful indeed. How many of the primary activities of the business do not involve technology? Not many in my experience.
3. Many more changes to manage – increasing complexity.
Now, more than ever before, the rate of change in technology is increasing and becoming more difficult to keep up with. The progress is reflected in the requests that users have of their IT departments and the frustration when ‘work IT’ doesn’t meet ‘home IT’ standards. We have 50mB internet connections to many homes in the UK now!
Businesses need to find the right technology framework and backbone infrastructure, which allows for flexibility but also provides quality of service, stability and availability. Without the framework, these elements are at risk.
4. Power to the people
Over the past few years, you may have noticed the introduction of:
- Online Petitions
- Online voting
- Online Census information
Information is much more available and accessible now, which allows for individuals and groups to take advantage of this and do things which previously would have taken much longer – relatively speaking. In addition to this enterprises whose reputations have been built up over years or decades, could now have their Brand and / or public images obliterated via social media in a matter of hours – thanks to Twitter and other new technologies. Feedback has never been so fast.
Companies need to act quickly to protect themselves from reputational damage within social media platforms. One complaint can be quickly visible to millions of people! These must either be responded to or the company must speak directly with the user to resolve any issues quickly.
5. Access everything from anywhere / everywhere.
A couple of months ago, whilst looking at the PC laptops, there were very few which could meet my criteria, such as durability and a good camera for Skyping etc. and the ones which did, were about £3-4k. So I went for a Macbook Air. Well, you would. Since I was making the enormous shift from PC to Mac in my head, I thought I might as well make another shift – I wanted all my information to be held ‘in the cloud’ and be accessible from anywhere and from any device. It would be great not to have to worry about which laptop a certain email was on for example.
Now, I expect to be able to move from device to device and continue where I left off from the previous device. For example, Amazon keeps the contents of your shopping cart for access from any device. Perfect. However, the effect of this is that website design just became a whole lot more complex!
Large and small companies alike need to ensure their users’ online experience includes homogenous services over multiple devices.
6. More communication channels to maintain.
Think about all the ways a company (or an individual) can communicate with its / their prospects and clients. We have whitepapers, newspapers, TV, banner ads, adwords, emails, direct snail mail, billboards, blogs, social media, magazines, websites, channels, sales and partners to name but some of the most well-known (Oh yes, and face-to-face!). This proliferation of media channels begs the question as to the relevance of the traditional methods – for example, press releases might not be the best way to reach a target audience any more, if the audience takes in information via other channels such as Twitter.
The proliferation of channels is actually a leveller – instead of having to pay extortionate amounts to market a business in the traditional sense, companies should assess the technology usage habits of their target audiences and match their messaging strategies to the most useful media channels. Go where your customers are, as they say, and it might not be as heavy on the wallet as you might think.
British Consulting define the elements of complexity theory to be the below. In brackets – where the consumerisation of IT plays.
- People (Consumers lead the charge! Power to the people.)
- Process (Loss of control over how IT is purchased)
- Systems (From infrastructure to SaaS – Access everything from anywhere)
- Facilities (How to plan and manage the data centre to support the ever-changing environment)
- Time Criticality (increasing pace of change)
- Stakeholders (Business decision-making involves more stakeholders now)
- Environmental context (Big Data – proliferation of information)
The consumerisation of IT has an impact on all of the above elements of complexity of any situation involving technology. Finding the correct frameworks to simplify decision-making within this ever-more complex environment is key to business agility.
Basically it’s huge. Don’t underestimate it.
By Venessa Moffat (Ex-IT Manager, Excitable Consumer and Technology Marketer.)