Warnings about the consumerization of IT (COIT) and bring your own device (BYOD) trends generally conclude saying something like, “it’s coming, it’s unstoppable, it’s productive, and IT should prepare to handle this new trend.”
But what does that mean? What jobs in IT are going to be impacted?
In terms of COIT, the answer’s simple: All of them. Over the next few years, techs who work in mobile, security, compliance, applications and hardware will see their roles change. The ones who’ll be under the most pressure to adapt will be those who work with hardware, since more of the technology they work with will be determined by rank-and-file employees. Sure, people still need to print and hook up a cable or two, but most employees are getting good at figuring that out for themselves.
Techs who administer BlackBerries need to look higher up the vertical if they want to stay relevant. As RIM’s devices are replaced with Androids, iPhones and Windows phones, IT may do less provisioning (app downloads are pretty simple, after all), but IT will manage those devices through things like Boxtone, RIM’s new BES server and Windows 8 platforms. Though Windows 8 is new to the game and no one has yet deployed it, and though it’s virtually non-existent in mobile, I wouldn’t bet against Microsoft, which has a history of patience while it implements its long-term strategies.
It’s About Data, Too
Another outgrowth of consumerization is data sprawl. From external storage silos like SkyDrive, SugarSync, YouSendIT, DropBox and now Google, much of IT has no idea where data is going, who’s viewing it, modifying and deleting it. Data integrity is a growing concern, since it represents security threats from within. So it’s smart to learn products like FileTrek, Box and Microsoft SharePoint — they all manage and track documents.
Employees will expect their desktop to be anywhere, which means they expect their applications, settings and preferences to follow them around as well. Microsoft is positioning itself to provide this kind of capability with Windows 8, allowing the desktop to travel seamlessly from one platform to the next. VMWare also provides a solution, and when it’s coupled with products like Quest, employees can securely log on anywhere.
Take a Corporate-Wide View
Finally, if you’re in one of these roles be sure to look at the big picture. If you’re only starting to grapple with the problems that come with COIT and BYOD, then you can bet HR is in the dark. All the tools in the world designed to secure and manage personal information are worthless without a proper IT policy. Those come from collaboration with HR.
That means there’s an emerging role tech specialists who can translate the costs and benefits of consumerization to HR administrators. Policies should address questions like, “What are the consequences for unauthorized sharing of data?” or “What is the acceptable period to report a lost or stolen laptop?” IT can lock it down, but without enforcement from HR, employees are less likely to cooperate.
Consumerization will make a lot of jobs obsolete, but it will also create a new positions. Of course, that’s the nature of IT.