The Financial Impact of Consumerization – You can’t manage what you don’t measure


Most Scrutinized BYOD Expense ItemsThe Consumerization of IT is a trend even the most parochial IT manager has surely heard of by now. It’s sweeping through enterprises across the planet with no regard for legacy, tradition or order and can be seen as either the most exciting or terrifying thing to happen to IT in the past decade, depending on where you stand.

For many IT managers, unfortunately, the prevailing attitude is still “why should I allow it?”. They are clinging on to the old paradigm whereby IT controlled and dictated the purchasing and ongoing management of technology used by employees. This attitude just will not stand any longer – consumerization is happening, and it needs to be managed in as financially efficient a manner as possible.

The problem with this is that, up until now there has been virtually no data with which IT leaders could start constructing their ROI frameworks. Not only did they not know for sure what the biggest cost impacts on BYOD programs and IT consumerization were, but they had little idea on how to start measuring them.

This is why Trend Micro commissioned analyst house Forrester Consulting to carry out a comprehensive study into the financial impact of consumerization. Forrester surveyed 202 IT decision-makers in enterprises in the US, the UK, France, and Germany, and conducted eight in-depth interviews lasting 45 minutes each. All participants in this study were C-level execs or IT leaders who’ve worked on BYOD programs and understood the financial impact of such trend on their organizations.

Make no mistake, this is an industry first – a rigorous scientific study designed to discover at last the financial impact of IT consumerization. And guess what we found? Most companies just aren’t measuring. In virtually all categories – from mobile security, to helpdesk, to legal fees, to staff training – around 40% of respondents said they currently weren’t measuring the cost/benefit impact. How can they improve their programs, or even build a business case, if there is no measurement? The answer is they can’t.

All IT leaders should be clear that consumerization is unlike any other IT technology ‘investment’ in that in cannot be easily tracked and accounted for. CRM, ERP, and office productivity software, servers and desktops, routers and switches can all be very clearly audited and the return on investment calculated in a relatively straightforward manner, but not for example with BYOD – the enterprise mobility incarnation of the consumerization trend. The devices are not owned by IT, the trend is not driven by IT and the tech vendors are from the consumer sphere – no product release roadmaps or volume license deals here.

In this new world, IT leaders should learn to create a dual accounting ledger whereby traditional investments are accounted for alongside separate costs relating to the technologies owned by staff. It’s the only way to gain meaningful insight into the true cost of IT consumerization. IT bosses, for example, need to be able to measure the real cost of helpdesk calls related to employee-owned mobile devices, software OS licensing costs for employee-owned laptops, and VDI investments needed so staff can use their own desktops at home. This will require a new way of thinking about budgeting, but that’s vital if IT is to ensure all technology is used and managed in the most efficient way possible – even if it is owned by the staff.

Consumerization is disruptive and inevitable. But many IT leaders are slow to realize it – and apparently unable to fully identify its business potential. Like dinosaurs of a previous IT era, they are likely headed for extinction.

NEXT It’s official: BYOD boosts productivity – but not for all.

About Cesare Garlati
Co-Chair Cloud Security Alliance - Consumerization, BYOD and Mobile Security.

One Response to The Financial Impact of Consumerization – You can’t manage what you don’t measure

  1. dan kaplan says:

    Great piece – about issues which aren’t getting a lot of attention. Is there an irony that IT – which in many contexts has led technology innovation – is often being caught flat-footed? Enterprise mobility is a challenge for IT departments because it does not easily fit into the legacy way of doing things.

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