Consumerization: The Future of IT Service Management?

Fifteen years ago, consumers and IT pros had little in common. The devices made by tech giants and owned by average users bore little resemblance to the high-performance gear designed by vertically integrated vendors leveraged by IT staffers. The rise of technologies such as enhanced cellular networks, powerful mobile devices and cloud computing, however, set the stage for a revolution: Devices could be made to serve both needs — and more cheaply — than designing for IT pros alone.

The result? Consumerization of IT, which brought down the price of advanced hardware and allowed device manufacturers to collaborate on production. Now consumerization is taking on a new challenge: IT service management. Are streamlined, user-focused portals the future of IT service?

Evolving Market

As noted by ZDNet, cloud computing vendors like Google and device makers like Apple are now driving IT evolution. For the search giant, this meant re-designing inefficient power supplies to save money — a design choice that carried through both consumer devices and specialized IT hardware alike. Apple, meanwhile, has just inked a deal with Cisco to optimize networks for iOS devices, effectively cementing iPhones and iPads as critical workplace devices. This shouldn't come as a surprise, since app development has long been firmly consumerized as companies quickly outstrip the number of apps they can design and support in-house. IT professionals need enterprise-grade app markets that offer both customization and software security just to keep up with evolving workplace and consumer demand.

Bottom line? Users expect that any technology they leverage day to day — from smartphones to ubiquitous Wi-Fi or even social media — will also be available at a corporate scale. For employees, this means the ability to work anywhere, anytime. For consumers this means near-instant response to concerns or inquiries across any channel. Taking this a step further is the desire to solve IT problems without the help of IT professionals, in effect, consumerizing the last bastion of IT specialization: service management.

Big Benefits

For many IT professionals, however, the notion of turning over IT service and support to users comes with a host of potential problems for business processes. First is worry over making things worse: What if user-sourced solutions don't effectively address the problem at hand or have unintended consequences across the rest of the corporate network? In addition, the consumerization of IT service management worries many IT professionals — if users can effectively self-serve any issue, what's the point of full-time IT staff?

In fact, opting for service consumerization has big benefits on both ends. Using Column's MyIT, for example, users can crowdsource IT problems by describing their issue in plain language and getting a best-fit solution in return. MyIT also provides context-aware services and alerts, concierge-style scheduling, and a customizable enterprise app store. IT pros, meanwhile, are no longer tied to the ticket-and-response model of service management since most issues can be handled without IT assistance. Instead, they're free to pursue devOps projects, which directly contribute to ROI — in turn living up to the new expectation of IT as an integral part of business strategy and business management solutions, rather than necessary expense.

The consumerization of IT continues to make inroads. IT service management is the next step forward and with the right underlying infrastructure offers big benefits for users and IT professionals alike.