Posted by Matthew Brown on September 25, 2011
Last week the New York Times Bits blog published an article with some recent Forrester data we published entitled "IT Departments Lose Their Clout Over Phone Choices" here. The article got all the data facts right about people provisioning their own technology, but I was kinda surprised by some of the virulent comments people posted about the article. The first commenter claimed: "This is the beginning of the end of the corporate IT department."
Really? I'm not sure why people jump to this conclusion when they hear the word "IT consumerization," but I've seen it more than once before. I think it's really naive. People typically support this "death of IT" viewpoint with assertions like: 1.) technology is getting easier to use; 2.) people are getting smarter about how to use tech; and 3.) IT people just get in the way. The first and second points are accurate: technology *is* getting easier to use and provision, and generally speaking, our data indicates every generation is getting more tech savvy. That's a good thing we should all celebrate because it likely means lower costs for low value stuff that IT people must do today (e.g. resetting passwords, installing software, distributing software patches, fixing machines, etc.). But to assume this is the only role of IT people shows profound ignorance. And considering consumerization (read the influence of Google, Apple, etc.) has been with us for at least five years and the corporate IT job market has fared better than most occupations, there seems to be no basis in fact that IT is growing less necessary as consumerization rises.
I for one would much prefer to see IT people working on stuff that adds net new value to the business. I just came off Forrester's Content & Collaboration Forum, during which we saw some of the great examples of high value stuff IT people can and should be doing more of -- like Dan Ranta of ConocoPhilips who fosters internal networks for operational effectiveness at the oil and gas giant; or Jason Lamon of Fishbowl Solutions who built an amazing iPad app for salespeople at Medtronic; or Roberta Cadieux of Kraft who has transformed just about every piece of technology employees use to improve the workplace experience over the last few years.
If consumerization helps free up these people and others' time to do more of what they're doing, I'm all for it.
Consumerization may just bring about the rebirth of corporate IT.