Top ten most influential of 2010: Consumer technology at work

IT departments have been forced to reconsider device policies in 2010 as the iPad, the tablet PC and smartphones of all shapes and sizes force their way into the workplace

Tablets are leading the charge in the consumerisation of IT.

Tablets are leading the charge in the consumerisation of IT.

Each Friday until the end of the year, Computerworld Australia is revealing one of the top ten most influential people, technologies and trends that shaped 2010 in Australia. The top ten was collated and determined by our editorial team and advisory panel of IT managers, industry experts, consultants and analysts. The list so far:

(See how we chose the top ten)

A Readers’ Choice poll is also open to determine what our readers think should be included, and what shouldn’t.

Coming in at number 9 for Computerworld Australia's top ten most influential of 2010: Consumer technology at work.

Consumerisation of IT

The iPad at work, iPhones in meetings and the latest netbook on your work desk; more than ever, consumer technologies are gaining a foothold in the enterprise, radically changing the way IT relates to the business.

Because of this trend, many employees no longer view it as acceptable that IT can limit not only the device upon which they carry out their work, but the location in which they carry it out. It is now taken as written that an employee can bring in their own laptop, tablet, iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone or other mobile device and the business must provide connectivity — most often wirelessly — and access to corporate data and applications.

The implications on the IT department are vast — from those on device and network security, the additional support staff need for their mobile device, on application integration and compatibility across multiple operating systems, to the ranging degrees of corporate risk to information security and compliance.

The 'Bring Your Own Computer' trend points to this fact, as companies either capitulate or cede ground to employees – and most often executives – that demand their say on what technology is and isn't used.

By now, IT departments must be acutely aware of the consumerisation of IT in their workplace.

But some are using it to their advantage, such as Citrix Australia and more recently, EMC.

As Citrix's area vice president A/NZ, Peter Brockhoff, succinctly put it: “Support for the device becomes a function of the provider of the device, because the requirement in purchasing the PC is to have a three-year contract with the provider for hardware and software support.

“The cost of the devices is only a small percentage of the total cost of a desktop over a three-year period so if you are taking away the support and management costs, there are significant savings.”

Even Australia’s Defence Force has opened up to the potential of the consumer IT with its chief technology officer, Matt Yannopoulos, conceding that consumer devices such as iPads and Xboxes are in many ways superior to standard business PCs or a toughbooks.

“I think we’re taking the lesson from the consumer electronics and saying what we do produce normally in military systems are not easy to use just because of the way they’re engineered and if we start to try and tip that on its head and go to it from a usability perspective, we’ll get a better outcome,” he told Computerworld Australia in October.

“I would not say we’re Apple-focussed, I’d say we’re looking at the consumer market and saying, well, they’re relatively low cost so if they break, throw them out and get another one. The lesson is probably in how the usability is increasing to make them a good tool of trade.”

Just in case there are any doubters left, even Microsoft — that great follower of trends — has signed on with Microsoft Australia managing director, Tracey Fellows, arguing early this year that the consumerisation of IT was really only at the beginning.

“We are now at the point where Facebook accounts for 25 per cent of all pages viewed on the internet,” Fellows argued at the time. “There is a fundamental shift in how people, and young people in particular, are communicating. And, whatever it is today, it will different by the time they enter our workforce.”

And of course, there’s the iPad, which, with CEOs to CIOs among its biggest advocates, speaks for itself. Attend any technological conference or gathering, and you'd be hard-pressed to find an IT manager – those holding the keys to who gets to use what, when - without one of Apple's shiny devices.

No matter what those with the keys to control think of the trend, it has certainly picked up steam in 2010, and along with it caused everyone to reconsider how device fleets, standard operating environments and information security are all implemented and managed.

So, with the consumerisation of IT being genuinely deserving of that very tired phrase — 'a true game changer' — it is little surprise that Computerworld Australia's advisory panel voted heartily in favour of its inclusion on this list.

(Do you agree with the consumerisation of IT's ranking in Computerworld’s top ten most influential? Let us know below or vote in the Readers' Choice award to have your say)

Related articles about the consumerisation of IT

Beyond the iPhone: A buyer's guide to smartphones in the enterprise

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Five minutes with... Microsoft Australia managing director, Tracy Fellowes

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