The march of consumerization continues with BYO(x)

Credit: Thomas_EyeDesign

Just when you got used to the idea of BYOD, the next big consumerization wave is coming and it involves Bring Your Own Everything, what I'm calling BYO(x) ... and what Forrester Research has coined Bring Your Own Technology. Oy.

Many IT pros still have trouble wrapping their arms around consumerization. They might have reluctantly given into a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy because it was growing increasingly difficult to support the myriad of devices and operating systems, but a general trend on bringing all your software and hardware needs to work? That's probably more than most are ready to accept.

Yet according to a recent Forrester Research report called Charting the Rise of Bring Your Own Technology by Connie Moore, that's exactly what's happening. She predicts that over the next 3 years, IT managers will probably throw in the towel and recognize that letting workers use the tools they are most comfortable with may be better than forcing cumbersome enterprise software down their throats.

The report shows that BYOD is in full swing -- 65 percent of the survey respondents reported they brought their own mobile phone to work and 51 percent their own tablets. But it's not just mobile devices. It's starting to be much more than that. (And just so you know, this wasn't some small sample. It was almost 10,000 workers from around the world.) 

In fact, a whopping 53 percent are exhibiting some form of BYO(x) already. The vast majority of these folks -- 43 percent -- are using their own PCs to do work, which isn't exactly earth-shattering news, but another 19 percent have reported using a web site or service that the company hasn't explicitly authorized and 16 percent have installed unauthorized software. Now we're getting into territory that might make IT pros squirm a little bit.

If you look at the freemium software model -- offering a version of the software for free, while selling a more enterprise-friendly version --  it's actually built on the idea of working around IT. As Tony Byrne from Real Story Group pointed out in a presentation last week at the Gilbane Conference, many companies are actually selling cloud services with the message that it's a way to free yourself from the limitations of working with IT. It's probably not easy to hear, but many people consider IT to be a bottleneck when it comes to getting anything done. If they can provision a service themselves in seconds, instead of waiting days or weeks, why wouldn't they do it? 

The Forrester report found that's exactly what starting to happen, with 28 percent of those surveyed reporting they were provisioning their own software. And what were they getting? Dropbox, Box, SugarSync, and Evernote were cited as examples of software users were getting on their own for free or paying for it out of their own pocket. 

These companies get into the enterprise through the users, working around IT and dealing with business units, while addressing a known pain point and addressing them quickly.

That's why Jive CEO Tony Zingale told CITEworld in October that he's bypassing IT departmenta and selling directly to business units. Interestingly enough when I spoke to Microsoft officials at the recent SharePoint Conference, they told me that they were relying on sales staff from the recently acquired Yammer to teach Microsoft how to sell outside of IT. So it seems even traditional IT vendors like Microsoft are bending to the tide.

The fact is that workers are being squeezed. They are being asked to do more with fewer staff and resources to help them out. When you're squeezed for time, the last thing you want to be doing is wrestling with a cumbersome enterprise software package that has more bells and whistles then you could ever possibly use.

There are companies out there offering these folks a lifeline and they are taking it -- not because they want to put the company at risk, but simply because they want to get their work done and if it takes bring your own technology to get there, so be it. Time to embrace BYO(x). Resistance is apparently futile.

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