Cisco’s creatively named “Umi” service aims to bring home video conferencing out of the PC and onto the television screen. At a list price of $599 Umi presents a high-definition alternative to free services such as Skype, Apple iChat AV, ooVoo, Sighspeed and Yahoo Chat. While Cisco is positioning Umi as a consumer product, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict that before long, some business user is going to ask the IT department how to integrate their home Umi device with the enterprise video conferencing system so they can participate in video conferences from the luxury of their living room sofa.
This “consumerization” of IT is part of a growing trend as workers increasingly expect the devices and services they use in their personal lives, be they iPhones, iPads, Droids, or social networks such as Facebook, to be accessible from within their work environments. Nearly half of firms report that employee use of personal technology is impacting their overall IT strategy; some even note a desire to enable personal devices to reduce support costs. In a few cases we’ve heard of IT departments providing a stipend for employees to buy their own devices, for which they are responsible for their own hardware support (for example, using this approach to outsource desktop device support to the Apple Genius Bar if employees choose Mac).
For the IT manager, consumerization will continue as a trend. Exploit the possibilities to use it to improve worker flexibility and reduce operating costs.
Irwin Lazar is the Vice President for Communication and Collaboration Research at Nemertes Research, where he develops and manages research projects, develops cost models, conducts strategic seminars and advises clients. His background is in network operations, network engineering, voice-data convergence, and IP telephony. Mr. Lazar is responsible for benchmarking the adoption and use of emerging technologies in the enterprise in areas including VOIP, unified communications, Web 2.0 initiatives, social networking, and collaboration.
A Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and sought-after speaker and author, Mr. Lazar is a columnist for No Jitter and Enterprise2Blog. He is a frequent resource for the business and trade press and is regular speaker at events such as Interop, VoiceCon, and Enterprise 2.0. Mr. Lazar serves as the conference director for FutureNet (formerly MPLScon), and is on the advisory board for the Enterprise 2.0 conference.