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IT consumerization rules in the hands of the business

Criticism of IT’s command-and-control approach is pretty common these days, given the march to people-centric computing, as Gartner dubs it, or IT consumerization, as IT execs themselves call it.

When it comes to mobility, social networks and even the cloud, however, command-and-control is still very much in place — although it isn’t necessarily the CIO who’s setting the ground rules now.

Sure, IT has a lot of input in setting policies for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, given that IT departments have to control their support costs. But limiting choices to a specific iOS or to just BlackBerry devices is more of a corporate cost-control mandate than a control issue for IT.

Social media policies encourage employees to reach out using social platforms but to do so within certain parameters. And those parameters often aren’t set by IT but by company executives — namely, legal.

At Medtronic Inc., a maker of biomedical device implants such as heart pacemakers, Suzanne McGann, social media program manager for global interactive strategy, was told by the company’s executive committee that there “will be no social media in the organization” until she figured out how to do it safely.

IT and CIO were terms McGann didn’t use when she gave a presentation at June’s Enterprise 2.0 show in Boston on the subject of developing social media policies. Medtronic’s director of information risk (who headed up social media policy development) was mentioned quite often, however, as were the global branding, intellectual property, human resources, legal corporate, legal regulatory, and FDA legal and regulatory departments.

It’s an interesting Catch-22 for IT teams. They are not always the rule-setters for IT consumerization, but they ultimately are the enforcers and the ones who take it on the chin. After all, if you violate the rules around that BYOD program, who is going to wipe that device?

On the other hand, many would argue that IT is very much in charge of setting the ground rules for IT consumerization. IT wants to make sure that mobile data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands; it helps business units choose the right cloud provider; and yes, it gives users a choice when it comes to device and application selection — which is why IT was so gung-ho about virtualization long before the business was.

In fact, many CIOs are leading the charge, taking it on themselves to develop a mobile device management program to accommodate proliferating iPads. IT is not so much a command-and-control center as it is a services broker leading corporations to the right choices.

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