Submitted by: Ira Brooks, Director of Business Development,  IPC Technologies, Inc.

The consumerization of IT across enterprise-scale organizations has reached a tipping point where mainstream IT organizations are recognizing that they can no longer ignore the transformational impact of consumer technologies in the enterprise. A new IDC global survey of IT decision makers and consumer IT users finds that consumer use of smartphones, social networks and cloud services are fundamentally changing the way organizations do business.

The study, titled “IT Consumers Transform the Enterprise: Are You Ready?” reveals that IT consumerization creates many new opportunities, including increased employee productivity, improved customer interactions, and faster and more agile business operations and decision-making. At the same time, however, it results in significant IT management and security challenges.

“Today’s CIOs have an opportunity to lead both business and IT innovation as they help their organizations decide how to best exploit the trend towards consumerization and personalization of IT,” said Crawford Del Prete, IDC’s Chief Research Officer. “CIOs are being called upon to do more than just maintain IT operations behind the firewall. In the face of rapid and intense consumerization, CIOs are being called upon to work closely with business decision-makers to create safe, secure, well-managed environments that allow the company to communicate and collaborate with customers and employees anytime, anywhere.

“CIOs need to lead the charge in order to ensure that customers are engaged, confidential data is protected, employee productivity is enabled, and the enterprise is getting the greatest return possible on every IT dollar it spends.”

Taking the Lead

The study found that different IT decision-makers are using different tactics to address these rapid-fire changes in their customer and employee expectations. One group of thought leaders, representing 19 percent of the total sample of IT decision makers surveyed, was found to be particularly proactive in getting ahead of the curve of consumer- driven IT. This group generally emphasizes the need for the IT organization to work closely with business decision-makers to aggressively integrate consumer technologies into a wide range of customer-facing programs and internal business initiatives.

This group of “leaders” can be contrasted with more mainstream organizations that described themselves as market followers, or ones that prefer to let business decision-makers lead the charge without assistance from the IT team. The idea is that these decision-makers tend to be further along in exploiting the potential advantages of IT consumerization.

The research indicates the leaders group is more likely to realize greater benefits from their investments than the mainstream “followers.” For example, 45 percent of leaders report they are experiencing improved customer satisfaction and loyalty by using social networks and rich media, compared to 31 percent of the mainstream group. Approximately one-third (32 percent) of leaders say they are seeing increased market share due to their use of social networks and rich media, compared to 20 percent of the mainstream group, and 32 percent note they are seeing greater penetration into new geographies, compared to 20 percent of the mainstream group.

The Public Cloud

Similarly, these proactive leaders are experiencing significant benefits from the use of public cloud services. Specifically, among the 616 organizations in the survey that are using public cloud ser