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This week, the first ‘Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise’ conference (also known as CITE) was held in San Francisco. The event brought together hundreds of IT execs and companies who share an interest in exploring how consumer technology is relevant in the enterprise. The week was earth shattering in a few ways, not the least of which was experiencing my first earthquake. Perhaps the 4.0 magnitude quake that jolted me awake Monday morning and made my hotel room sway back and forth was an indication of things to come. It certainly gave me an interesting analogy to share in my speaking session at the event – specifically how mobile and social are driving how the news of the quake was shared throughout the city. While the quake was an interesting start to the event, the CITE conference itself provided an impressive lineup of fantastic sessions and speakers. Here, I’ll share a few key takeaways on how personal technology is changing and infusing the workplace.

  1. We are at the beginning of an incredible journey. The pace of change is this market is truly incredible and the adoption by enterprises is set to take off. In his session, Rick Bauer of CompTia stated that “The CIO and the organization face not only the consumerization of IT (CoIT), but also the increasing velocity of technology diffusion into the enterprise.” While we have to be sure not to get too caught up in every technology wave, we need to embrace the technology that users want, and don’t let it get away from us. This journey is one that no leading company can afford to miss.
  2. Today’s technology is causing relationships to change. The connections that exist between IT and other lines of business including sales and marketing are morphing in a positive way. For example, one conference session featured both the CIO and CMO of a major insurance company, discussing how their departments work together in today’s CoIT-inspired environment. The CIO had a fantastic observation that “IT has to have enough insight to make a difference – and the relevance & credibility with the business to make a difference”. His observation as a CIO was that as he is approached for a technology request, “there are fewer times that a gap is a chasm when we are talking to LOBs about their technology needs.” Consumerization has driven users and lines of business to be better educated on what is possible and has made them more willing to work in concert with IT to meet their needs.
  3. Apps are a significant priority. I’ve been talking about the importance of mobile applications in almost every blog I write, and the conference focus was right in line with this core belief. Just before the show opened I heard that Apple announced that the 25 billionth app was sold over the weekend. The economics of that are staggering! When was the last time anyone had sold 25 billion of anything? At the CITE conference, the apps discussion was around building great apps. I really enjoyed sessions by Brian Katz of Sanofi. His buzzword is that we need to avoid building “Crapplications.” Our focus should be on building apps that meet the needs of users and take a ‘bottoms up’ approach when defining use cases. To do this, go for a ride-along with your technicians, sit for a day with your users and observe how they interact with data before you decide what to build into the app. Design is key – but overdesigning and putting too many features into an app can be a major downfall.
  4. Data is independent of devices. We’ve come a long way in the mobile world; if you look at the number of vendors who claim to manage some aspect of your mobile world (I’ve heard that today there are anywhere from 40-70 vendors) they will all tell you a slightly different story of how to do it. Soon, we will live in a world where information moves based on what device or system you are using. Consumerization has changed the model: BYOD (bring your own device) and COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled) combined represent what CoIT means. This forces us to rethink how we manage mobility. We can’t simply manage a mobile device; rather we have to think about management from a more holistic point of view – connectivity, security, application management and MDM are parts of a bigger, comprehensive EMM (enterprise mobility management) requirement.
  5. Adoption is the new ROI. If you are trying to figure out how to quantifiably measure ROI in this new mobile world I think you’re going to have a pretty tough time. Can you quantify the value of mobile email? In fact, can you even remember a time when you didn’t have mobile email to compare to? Smartphones and tablets are significantly impacting how we do business – but exactly how significant is it? Forecasts are now stating there will be 100 million iPads sold by the end of this year. With numbers like that, perhaps we simply need to consider mobile as the new standard business tool and look at a new way to track success: adoption. If your employees and customers are engaging with you through mobile apps then perhaps you are already achieving the ROI you are looking for.
  6. Think mobile first. Whether you are deploying apps to your internal employees, partners or customers, the crystal ball of the future predicts that taking a ‘Mobile First’ mentality would be a good strategy. I talked about how this concept in in use at SAP for both internal and external apps in this short video recorded at CITE. Mobile is a mindset that we are embracing wholeheartedly at SAP – it is driving how IT works internally and how we go to market with our product offerings. At CITE this topic came up several times as vendors and enterprises alike look to the future.
     
    Overall, the CITE conference provided a broad perspective of the impact of mobile and social from industry CIOs who are embracing the technology. One of the best quotes I heard this week was in a session about what mobile consumer technologies can do for your business. Often we think about mobilizing existing business processes – but the potential new ways that this technology brings about are what is really compelling. One CIO advised “Don’t pave the cow path.” In other words, open your eyes to the potential that consumer technology can bring about to transform your business.
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