Mobile phones have overtaken cars as the most tedious TV ads. They are enough to drive the nation to collectively put on the kettle, overload the national grid and cause power outages across the land – which would at least get rid of the bloody TV ads. The adverts themselves smack of desperation – filled with bouncy balls and bubbles or wobbly, bendy furniture and hideously hip twentysomethings walking through buildings.

This recent advertising drive may be because there are now more mobiles than people in the UK and it’s becoming more of an effort to get people to sign up to different packages and buy new phones.

Personal technology, is now part of the fabric of our lives. The iPod generation has already made its mark and once the BBC mainstream news started advertising podcasts we all knew iPods had entered the fabric of our society. Blackberries, Skype, MySpace, instant messaging, the list of personal technologies available seems endless.

Which raises the question: are days of the IT department controlling its users numbered and will computing become just a utility like any other? Analyst firm Gartner says, “consumerisation is the most significant trend impacting IT in the next 10 years” and apart from the infuriating abuse of language used in that statement, it could be right.

Time to let go

The analyst firm believes it is time for IT departments to let go a bit and start handing back some responsibility to users.

For many IT directors this must be a scary concept, given what happened when the PC arrived and departmental client server computing took off. A lack of control in most cases meant chaos, spiralling costs and the IT department held up as the villain when it tried to curb the worst excesses.

Gartner believes the rules for IT distribution have changed and the methods for building and maintaining IT systems have moved on. Today it is all about collaborative working, whether through email, instant messaging or Skype. However, CIOs may have a long way to go to rearrange their organisations and their mindsets around a user centric model. Pesky things like security, data integrity and cost effectiveness start getting in the way. There is also overcoming the perception of what the IT department actually does. One group IT director recently told CIO UK: “I can be at a board meeting discussing our long term IT strategy and then I will be asked why the email went down for two hours last week. That is what some of them think we spend our time doing. Sorting out their email systems. Unbelievable.”

Divide and conquer

Gartner says CIOs should consider dividing IT strategy into things that are centrally determined and then letting go of the user market, so that ‘digital natives’ who have grown up fully immersed in digital technology have their head and determine their own user devices. I can imagine IT directors breaking out in a cold sweat at the prospect of inmates taking over the asylum.

But one of the bonuses of the consumerisation of technology, that Gartner fails to mention, is the end of all those boring, desperate mobile phone ads on TV. As the number of TV channels grow and on-demand viewing, like Sky+ becomes the norm, the advertising market has begun to fragment, with advertisers look for more effective ways to reach their audiences. This means – yippee – no more bubbles and bendy buildings on TV. No, it’ll be back to crappy car ads again and dubious claims by burger makers. On the plus side, look out though for trendy twentysomethings smashing their blackberries and mobiles as they become closely targeted recipients of the bubble merchants.