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Lori Borg (Mugshot)

How does the consumerization of IT impact your business and how you choose to run it, you ask? As business leaders, we must look at the new demands of consumers, our employees and customers, and determine how we can stay relevant in our respective industries.

In recent months, I have heard a lot about the relatively new development that is being referred to as the consumerization of IT. The consumerization of IT is an interesting trend whereby we, all of us consumers out there in the world including you and me, have higher expectations of what IT can do for us.  Sure – we all can agree that as technology becomes more sophisticated, so do its features and functions. However, the consumerization of IT is much more fundamental pure IT and software sophistication. At the core of how we manage our daily lives, consumers have come to rely on software and devices over traditional, tangible consumer goods.

To further depict the core human change in our lives that has come from the consumerization of IT, imagine for a moment your office 10 years ago (if you didn’t have an office 10 years ago, imagine, maybe, your cubicle or home work space). My office, perched high on the 27th story of Two Union Square in downtown Seattle, had bookshelves filled with books, binders, and publications; a bulletin board with various reminders, phone numbers, and invitations; and a clock hung high on the wall. Sitting on my desk I had a fancy office phone with all the latest capabilities; a pen holder with a few of my favorite rollerball pens and clicker pencils; a stapler, tape dispenser, and 3-hole puncher; and a cup of coffee.

In my office today, my bookshelves are few and sparse. My Kindle, online reading, and cloud workspaces have replaced my stacks of binders, books, and publications. Gone is the day of my bulletin board full of notes and invites, having been happily replaced with Word sticky notes, SharePoint docs, and Evite invitations. No clock hangs on my wall any longer; I have a cell phone for that. My desk is absent a stapler, tape dispenser, and 3-hole puncher, as I have no need for these things with soft documents. I have also replaced my multitude of pens and highlighters with a single, special Swarovski 4GB USB pen for those infrequent times each day that I need to jot down something important. The only thing that remains the same on my desk from 2002 to today is that I still have a cup of black coffee sitting next to my mouse.

My shift in behavior from using physical items like a bulletin board covered in papers and office supplies to highlight, collate, store, and display my papers to using cloud-based business and personal applications such as Office 360, Salesforce.com, Pinterest, and Evite is representative of what the consumerization of IT is all about. All of the information that I need is at my fingertips via my computer or mobile devices.

I have come to expect I can interact with my important business and personal applications on any platform I choose.

So have my customers.

And so have my employees.

Our employees are showing up to work with their own tablets, their own mobile devices and laptops, and they are demanding to interact with business critical applications on every platform. As business leaders, we must rise to these new challenges. Or we become obsolete.

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