Posted by Alexander Peters, Ph.D. on November 11, 2011
I am currently setting up a research project on the impact consumerization is having on companies. Just as a quick reminder, we define consumerization as:
An approach by which employees use technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and cloud Internet services that they master at home or discover on their own to get work done.
The more I dive into the subject, the more difficulty I have making sense of it. Based on interviews and discussions with experts and practitioners, I’ve divided opinions on this topic into two camps. Let me profile them clearly to make the differences evident:
- Marketing people tend to see consumerization as a Groundswell phenomenon: Give your employees access to social platforms from Facebook to Twitter, arm them with tablets and access to apps, and let a new era of creativity and innovation explode.
- IT experts need a clear implementation plan — waterfall-like if possible: First you capture requirements; then you plan the implementation and secure budgets; then you develop, integrate, and test the apps, etc.
The first approach is about creating a broad collaborative environment with help from technology, whereas the second one emphasizes practical realities related to security requirements, budgeting, and integration.
My question is: Do these two approaches make business sense? Are they orthogonal or we can find something in between?
For example, let’s start with the assumption that businesses exist to fulfill some social responsibility and need to demonstrate profitability to exist. (Please excuse my old-fashioned mindset.) Do we need somebody to make business sense of consumerization and purposely drive it? Can it be IT, or it should be a business stakeholder — for example, HR — responsible for driving personal productivity and collaboration along some business processes? Do we need an extra mobility czar or can a business architect also do the job? Do firms need an extra governance process for consumerization, or do the fundamentals of business process governance suffice?
I very much welcome and appreciate your answers and other comments.