Robert Lee Harris
Robert Lee Harris is President of Communications Advantage, Inc., a consulting company focusing on enterprise communications strategies and cost management....
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Robert Lee Harris | January 19, 2012 |


Consumerization of IT: Is It More than Just Bring-Your-Own (Mobile) Device?

Consumerization of IT: Is It More than Just Bring-Your-Own (Mobile) Device? Lots of things are changing about the consumer technology environment; are you keeping up with all of them?

Lots of things are changing about the consumer technology environment; are you keeping up with all of them?

It turns out that at CES, Consumerization of IT primarily means "BYOD" (Bring Your own Device). The panel discussion appropriately named "The Consumerization of IT: How Consumer Innovation Is Influencing Business" featured participants from software and virtualization service providers (SAP, QuickOffice and Citrix) as well as one carrier (Verizon), but the discussion was nothing new for anyone following the BYOD trend. The "business value" side of the discussion focused primarily on cost savings for device purchases and support. Also mentioned was the value of letting people use the device of their choice instead of an "old clunky company laptop they hate" (if the company provides the slick new tablet, would they still hate it?), and discussion segued into the standard "challenges" around securing company data and selecting mobile device management tools.

In contrast, last March at the Enterprise Connect conference, which focuses on business technology, attendees were pondering what consumer technology adoption would bring to the enterprise--not just from personal devices, but from networked homes, social media and interactive video systems. At CES 2012, the subject matter was strictly limited to smartphones and tablet computers. When the innovation drivers identified in the consumer electronics industry are limited to personal devices, could it mean we are at the conclusion of this phase of influence?

Better and Cheaper devices--Viewsonic Viewpad E70 offers 1080p output with Andriod 4.0 for $169 suggested retail.

In the session, Shadman Zafar, Senior VP of Rapid Product Development for Verizon, suggested that large enterprises should develop an IT Research and Development team to evaluate end-user technology trends and plan around them. From what I have seen, most large businesses would defer this responsibility to an Enterprise Architecture group, but enterprise architects generally look at what analysts say and other businesses are doing. They don't look at what devices employees pull out of their jackets and purses on their lunch hour, and they don't look over their shoulder at what apps they are using and how these could be emulated in the office. (A side note: Zafar will be one of the keynote speakers at Enterprise Connect 2012 in March.)

Besides this session, it was more of the same. Any exhibit that used the term "Consumerization of IT" focused on smartphones and tablets. People want to use their smartphones and tablets for work...yeah we get that. All these new devices on the show floor are faster or thinner, or have higher resolution; better get ready for even more demand for BYOD! Raise your hand...ook how many of you business folks are already carrying around an iPad...we already know that too!

Maybe we are now in a reactive phase in adopting employee-owned devices. Not every enterprise has completed the transition, but for the most part, IT kind of knows what it is going to look like when it is completed.

Smart TVs and Interactive Video
Last month, InStat Research reported that purchase of streaming media devices (e.g. Roku, Apple TV or an array of media capable video games and Blu-ray players) doubled in 2011, and that 17 million US households now own Internet connected televisions. Television manufacturers and programmers are ready to accommodate this connectivity in ways beyond simply using the television as a large web browser or video player. One of the CES Innovations Honorees was Biscotti, a device that provides a "TV Phone" connection over any television set with connectivity to tablets and smartphones. Samsung announced their vision for providing connectivity across their entire catalog of TVs, mobile phones, tablets, notebooks, cameras and even home appliances. The camera on the Samsung ES9000 OLED (Organic LED) TV enables voice control and facial recognition. Another exhibitor, PrimeSense, demonstrated a 3D Awareness Sensor, which can be mounted on top of television sets, enabling applications that respond to your every movement or command. Nearly every Internet-connected television includes Skype on the menu of pre-loaded content.

Biscotti TV Family talks to Nana and Booboo, who have optimized their LAN and WAN for internet streaming.

Is there a business impact? The potential exists for using home televisions as videoconferencing or telework devices, but what is available in the technology is lacking in the vision and execution. For example, Biscotti interfaces with Gmail but has no interface with business platforms such as GoToMeeting, Webex or AT&T Connect. The Nokia Lumia with Windows Phone debuted with only a future promise of a Skype client, despite Microsoft's ownership of Skype and close relationship with Nokia. Even with the potential for integration with Lync, enterprise integration of Skype is likely to be incidental rather than a core strategy by Microsoft.


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