I was recently talking to a senior engineer in charge of the mobile strategy for a large manufacturer about why the Windows Phone wasn't part of his company's corporate bring-your-own-device program. After all, his company uses a lot of Microsoft products.
Turns out he had asked the same question of the executive in charge of deciding which technologies his company adopts, and had been a bit surprised by the response. "What I was told was that Windows Phones were not getting enough adoption on the consumer side to maintain an enterprise-level solution. I was like, 'Wow,''' this senior engineer said.
Wow, indeed. If people aren't using the device in their private lives, the company is not going to bother supporting it for business purposes. This should dispel any lingering doubts CIOs might have about the consumerization of technology blowing up enterprise IT strategies.
If people aren't using the device in their private lives, the company is not going to bother supporting it for business purposes.
What this senior engineer was being told, in a nutshell, is that we're at the point of no return when it comes to consumerization. When I asked him if the day is coming when companies like Apple put the needs of enterprises before those of the consumer when they design their products, the answer was a flat no. "And we'll just have to adjust. Business problems are not a priority for many of these vendors because the consumer versus the business revenue stream is really strong, so the enterprise is not getting as much attention as it was years ago," he said.
Windows Phone is just one example of how enterprises are aligning their IT strategies to consumer market trends. The CIO of a large insurance company recently told me that many enterprises were blindsided by Dropbox. Here's a service that gives you 2 GB of storage for free and up to 500 GB starting at $9.99 a month. It has become so popular that some CIOs are developing their own Dropbox-like services to try to put some governance around the types of data being stored in the cloud.
More on consumerization
VMware CIO: The consumer experience in the enterprise
Should your next IT hire be a consumer advocate?
The consumerization of IT in the enterprise: A guide for CIOs
In response to a question about the 2013 budget, a CIO told SearchCIO.com that any budget item they present to management has to show what the equivalent cloud service would cost and why they wouldn't go with a cloud solution versus building the service in-house.
As the insurance company CIO put it to me, "What's the point? Why would you bother reinventing the wheel?" To him, it made no sense for IT departments to develop a service that already exists and that users clearly like using. "You would be playing catch-up all the time. The companies like Dropbox that are developing these services are experts at what they are doing."
Need more evidence of the influence of consumerization? At drug and vaccine maker Sanofi, the smartphone breakdown is 80% Apple iOS, 20% BlackBerry and 1% Android. "And the ones that choose to use an Android often turn it back in and ask for an iPhone," said Brian Katz, Sanofi's director of IT, during the recent Enterprise 2.0 show in Boston. "They say it's confusing to use, but what is happening is there's a tribe of iPhone people taking care of each other. They aren't touching IT for support. I've never seen anything like it in my career."
The tribe has spoken.