Once upon a time, IT said unto select employees (in biblical tones): "Thou lucky employee, thou shalt have this very expensive cellphone (sign here) and thou shalt want no other. Go forth and communicate," adding, "and, lo, thou shalt also have this very expensive laptop (sign here as well) and thou better not break it, buster. Now, go forth and lug it around the country and give presentations and whatever else it is you do. Begone."
And verily did the employees go forth and do their thing using the very expensive tools that had been delivered unto them and they were fairly happy.
But it came to pass that these very expensive tools became less expensive and were improved so they could do a lot more tasks and then, soon thereafter, they became even less expensive and even more capable until, lo, they became dead cheap and really powerful.
TECH ARGUMENT: Corporate-owned vs. employee-owned mobile devices
The employees looked upon these tools and said, "Verily, these are so cheap I'll buy one for myself and yet more for my family ... oh, and you know what, they are better than what I have at work so I will take all these gnarly digital gadgets with me to the office." And thus did the consumers learn the term "w00t!"
And so was born yet another headache for IT: The consumerization of information technology.
If you're in IT, you've been battling the tsunami of smartphones, laptops, Wi-Fi access points, USB drives, cheap printers and so on that have flooded into the enterprise and made your lives more difficult.
Your users have had the nerve to think that they can just copy files they need onto their personal iDevices or their nerd sticks so they can do work at home. They mail confidential documents to their co-workers' smartphones and stuff sensitive corporate data onto their pocket-size USB drives.
And worse than that, many of your users got tech-savvy. Where you could once tell them "X can't be done" and expect them to leave you alone, they now argue with you and show you some App Store widget that does what they think want for $4.99! If you try to explain that this is in no way enterprise-grade, they point out that they really don't care and you can't stop them.
And to make matters worse, along comes all this cloud hoo-ha. Cloud was once for the big boys only. It was enterprise stuff and it was tricky, complex and spendy. But Google and a slew of others made storage and email available to all for nothing, and now Apple has joined the fray with iCloud, exponentially complicating your life.
And it is this combination of, well, "stuff," that is going to make your life, for want of a better word, interesting. You know what the end user side of the IT world of your future will look like? Nothing but wireless, iPhones and iPads, cheap software, data all over the place, and security strategies full of holes. And may the gods help you if you're in a regulated industry.
There's only one answer: Adapt. Embrace the change. Be flexible. It's like you're tied to the tracks of the enterprise and the freight train of the future is coming at you and it's not only got no brakes, someone has jammed the throttle full on. Now, that's biblical.
Gibbs sees the future in Ventura, Calif. Your predictions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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