As we roll into a new year, it's all too easy to get caught up in the promise and challenge of new technologies, like software defined networking, hybrid clouds, faster Wi-Fi, and so many others. Dealing with the changes and fallout they create will keep enterprises plenty busy in 2014. And they will no doubt affect the way everyone from network admins to CIOs make their everyday decisions.
But if you ask me -- and yes, I know you didn't -- the most important thing for everyone to remember is that enterprise technology is no longer about enterprise technology professionals.
As of right now, we've got to take responsibility and recognize that the locus of technology influence has shifted from the vendors and IT departments to the business and consumer users of that technology.
What havoc hath consumerization wrought?
The "consumerization of IT" is no longer just an interesting phrase; it's the description of a fundamental power shift that is redefining the tech landscape. For the first time in the modern era, individual users and business units have viable options that don't involve IT. They can use their own devices and get the services and computing power they need in the cloud.
Just as importantly, from the user's perspective, those options often look a heck of a lot better than what IT is offering. They're typically much easier to use, equally as powerful (if not more so), and often much cheaper. The corporate solutions just seem to get in the way.
Sure, those end-user-driven choices may not be as secure, and they may not help the overall organization leverage its economies of scale. They can even end up balkanizing essential information in disconnected silos that may serve marketing's needs but offer no help to product development or manufacturing. Duplication of effort may end up costing the company big dollars.
User priorities trump IT concerns
But none of that really matters to employees and business units. From where they sit, doing it themselves is an increasingly attractive option, and they mean to take advantage of it.
IT has to recognize that this shift is real, and resolve to figure out a way to leverage those new technologies and abilities to satisfy users while also meeting the organization's larger goals. It won't be easy, and telling users to just say "no" is a non-starter. These market forces cannot simply be controlled or willed out of existence.
Instead, it's up to IT to offer end users better options -- those that meet user needs as well as corporate imperatives. Because it's increasingly clear that in this battle, all the momentum is on the side of end users, not IT. Now that they have choices outside of what IT is offering, they're going to do what they want, not what they're told.
IT has to get this right, because if things do go wrong, IT, not the business users, are the ones who will take the heat. It may not be fair, but it's the new reality.