Who's driving consumerisation?

The technical impact of the consumerisation of IT can be disruptive to CIOs, but a less well considered aspect is the impact to organisational management processes.

Consumerisation challenges the traditional balance of CIO and organisational power when it comes to the deployment of IT. Consumerisation alters the way employees think about the business technology they use and the responsibility they have for it too.

Consumerisation has reversed the direction of IT innovation flow. IT departments now find they have to react to user demands where before they used to dictate strategy.

There is a vast number of productivity-enhancing applications that users can download onto their smart devices, without the need for the IT department's input, but it is likely to be the more mundane applications that will have the most impact.

"What we're seeing is that senior people in particular are leading this kind of innovation. They're the ones that are bringing in the iPads and the laptops, so it's very difficult to impose command and control from below," says Owen Powell, formerly IT director at the NHS Inner Northwest London PCT and now Head of IT at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Simon Callow, head of IT at luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin Lagonda, says the business benefits in terms of working processes are very compelling too.

"What the business is challenging me for is the elimination of non-productive hours and I think mobility gives us that opportunity, and that goes back to the always-on piece," he says. C-level peers at Aston Martin Lagonda have challenged Callow to increase productivity, and consumerisation allows staff to operate wherever they are, in an always-on way.

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Aston Martin production

The key for Callow is to get the most out of every employee, which mirrors the demands of the car-making industry, a competitive business which is always looking for improvements in production efficiencies.

Mobile hospital

The health sector too is a highly mobile workplace and staff are expected to spend a minimal amount of their day stuck at a desk. Powell recognises that the quicker he can deploy a mobile strategy, the faster the benefits can be realised. If staff are using devices they are familiar with, that process is accelerated.

Digitising NHS processes and applications onto familiar consumer devices offers the health service the chance to reduce the time and money it spends on training.

"Back in the day you'd have users who would see corporate IT as bit of a chore. It's not necessarily something they wanted to do," Powell says. That has all changed now.

Improved collaboration has been a holy grail of the IT department for some time, and the influx of consumer devices has made collaboration easier to achieve.