The notion of the “Consumerization of IT” is top of mind for many prognosticators these days. Discussions about the changing world of work and the forces impacting IT quickly point to consumerization as a prime driver, and Dell put out a good paper on the topic last year.
While the number of devices and types of devices being used is rapidly increasing, and users are pressuring IT to enable personal devices in the workplace. The notion of consumerization while valuable to help illustrate impacts of new devices in organizations is only part of the driving force impacting work and IT systems. In this blog I suggest there is an additional important force at work – namely digitization that is a key driving force underlying consumerization.
Our analog world is increasing being digitized with today’s plethora of “smart” hand held devices leading the charge. Today’s digital devices have an increasing number of embedded sensors. These sensors create the smart in “smart phone” by digitizing the world in which we live our lives. The range of sensors currently available includes GPS, gyroscopes, magnetometers, accelerometers, NFC, temperature and light – and these are just the current starting point for the expanding universe of sensors coming soon to a hand held device near you.
In the near future there will be even more sensors included in mobile devices – Geiger counter anyone? Basically any device scientists use to conduct measurements in a lab such as spectroscopes, bio-medical devices and even Geiger counters may soon make way into your smart phone and it is a given these sensors will digitize even more aspects of our lives in real time.
Digitization is a true driving force. Digitization is converting our continuously changing analog world into real time digital data streams about us, our environments, what we are doing, where and with whom we are doing all forms of activities – and this is big data! As these big data streams begin to be analyzed and leveraged (yes, context–based advertising will likely be the first result of these efforts) the impacts to all aspects of our lives – including out work lives will be significant. Digitization is creating the data that new cool apps leverage to make our smart devices so desirable and valued. Digitization is what makes smart devices sticky and things we crave to own and are willing to will integrate into our daily lives. Digitization is the driver of consumerization of IT.
Soon, our phones and tablets will combine inputs and outputs from multiple sensors to create higher order data outputs – see this piece on Windows 8 tablets for some examples. The evolution of these data processing capabilities will have huge impacts and will help with the integration of smart hand-held devices into our daily work systems. The work world will be impacted by all this digitization, but exactly where and how this is all going to end up not clear.
What is clear at this point is that traditional work models are changing rapidly. Work is becoming dynamic and time and location independent. These changes are driving IT to give serious consideration to tools like desktop virtualization to help address the changing expectations of employees for any device any location access to work resources. Oh way, by the way, Dell has a robust portfolio of desktop virtualization solutions – see here for additional details.
What does this all mean? Here is my take on this is. Predictions on the pace and depth of changes we will experience to our work world as a result of digitization will be wrong in two ways. One – the coming changes will take longer to take hold than predicted (work involves people after all) and our collective human abilities to embrace and integrate change is slower than the speed of technology. Two, the depth of these transformations to our work world that will ultimately take place will be more profound and much deeper than predicted – it’s a case of we don’t know what we don’t know at this point.
As this Dell and Intel report on the Evolving Workforce points out, successful innovation in work systems is not a given. Technology is an excellent enabler and change sometime comes hard when it involves the human element.