Personal Devices vs. Business Devices: Consumerization and its impact on IT

by Sudhir on October 17, 2013

The Reality of Consumerization

Earlier, the use and roles of business devices and personal devices were clearly demarcated, to address issues of privacy and data security. Today, however, the use of personal devices for business purposes is rising. Consumers are increasingly shifting to working on their personal devices and this shift from business devices to personal devices is referred to as ‘Consumerization’. The shift is real and it is happening right now. Consumerization gives the end-user more control and power. Smartphones are the gateway drugs, educating people on the endless possibilities of multi-tasking. This knowledge translates very easily to PCs and can be adapted very quickly as personal devices are equipped with business tools/access as well. This has resulted in entry of personal into enterprise than the other way around. Consumerization is best illustrated in the fall of RIM and rise of Android, iOS, and Apple’s Business App Store . In addition, reduced cost of entry makes this entire process attainable.

Consumerization Trends

End-users herald this shift as they feel more connected to their personal devices. To them, being connected is equivalent to being free. Flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance are a few attributes that are further driving this trend. Over the last two years there has been a significant increase in the number of end-users opting for personal devices.

In addition, most consumers are crossing over between using personally purchased Smartphones and PCs for both personal and work purposes. Moreover, while staying connected to email/calendar is great, most consumers increasingly want to create work content, from anywhere, on their own devices.

The Rise of the Prosumers

According to Forrester, the term ‘Prosumers’ (Professional Consumers) was first used in early 2006 and was used to communicate consumer empowerment. However, despite all the convenience, Prosumers do express a concern about mixing business/work and personal data. In US, UK, and Germany, the primary concern of end-users was regarding confidentiality of their personal data, as per the Prosumer Profiling report, Sept, 2011. Other concerns include:

  • Tracking and usage of personal data by the organization
  • No permission by organization to store confidential, work related data on a device that also doubles as a personal device

In India and China, however, Prosumers are far less concerned about the previously mentioned issues, though they express the need for some security feature between modes. While IT recognizes the challenges of Consumerization, it also understands the benefits.

Designing for Prosumers calls for a focus on various aspects:

  • Solution/set of products · Software as a service
  • Designing for the high-end person, the laptop power users
  • The device is not irrelevant; it is intensely personal
  • Image befits the price · SSD storage is extremely important
  • Travel size – airplane coach trays should be the guideline for maximum screen size

Consumerization is fast catching on and the trend is now prolific. However, Gartner, the firm that coined term Consumerization reports, “You can see that Consumerization is disappearing. It is more about balancing the stuff on the cloud through device optimization. ‘Conventional’ is being replaced by ‘cloud’ service behavior. There is no gap between consumer and professional notebooks. People will use devices which conveniently allow them to access different Cloud services when needed.” It also defines the following: The personal cloud (PC): Is your own personal collection of data and applications The work cloud: Is a personal collection of applications provided by your company The social cloud: Facebook, Twitter, etc. The government cloud: Is a collection of medical records, social security, etc Gartner also explores how portability, connectivity, consumption, and personalization drive behavior versus device selection.

Dell’s POV on Consumerization

Dell is offering its employees access to their corporate email through personal devices that meet some basic requirements. Popular mobile platforms such as Android, IOS, and BlackBerry will support this. Once a request for this service is submitted to the IT service desk, Dell will secure and partition the device such that personal data is protected and cannot be accessed by the company.

Additional software support will be provided to the employees at no cost, though service charges incurred aren’t included in this. Another initiative the dell is offering to consumers is Dell mobile phone at an employee discount. This device helps consolidate business and personal needs while cutting costs at the same time. Employees will also be offered number portability where they can move their Dell number to a personal account in their name and financial responsibility.

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