What is Consumerization of IT?

If you are unfamiliar with the term “Consumerization of IT” or CoIT then you may think that it means “IT has become a consumer product”.

But that is not interpretation which is generally accepted.

Traditionally, adoption of Information Technology used to start with defense & government followed by the business enterprise. Those technologies used to be sold in low volume and high cost. Only over a period of time cost used to come down making it affordable for the individual consumer to adopt such technologies.

Now we see that the trend seem to have reversed. Many of the latest technologies get adopted by the individual consumer first to be followed by business enterprise, defense and government.

This trend – this change in direction of technology absorption – is called Consumerization of IT.

Where did the Term originate?

Douglas Neal and John Taylor seem to have used the term “Consumerization of IT” in 2001. So we can conclude that by 2001 the effect was quiet visible. So, we can safely assume that the trend had already started in the mid-nineties. However, the trend has lately been more visible. There are so many examples:

  • Smart phones – iPhone, Android devices
  • Tablets – iPad
  • Social networking – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • Cloud email – Gmail, Hotmail
  • Other cloud hosted services – Drop box, Google Apps

How does this impact you?

As usual, the answer is “it depends” … it depends on what you do!

If you are a typical “knowledge worker” not directly involved with IT then you might see this as an opportunity to use your favorite devices and tools in your workplace.

If you are involved in running the IT setup you will see this as a big headache.

If you are a forward looking manager you may look at this as the lever for collaboration and productivity improvement.

And, if like me, you are involved in technology management then you should be concerned as you may have to discard all the existing theory of technology lifecycle management.

Finally, the consumer in you will hope that all those people who are trying to sell stuff to you will realize that they have to make all the support services more useable or else …

Why is IT concerned about CoIT?

It is about loss of control and unpredictability.

Security concern: With more types of devices, with more services hosted in the cloud, with more mechanism of exchanging information you create more opportunity for hackers and intruders. This is especially true if your organization has to comply with mandatory regulations – on data security, on access control, on network security and many more. Even the laws are less clear on information transmitted through employee accounts and social networks, even when at work.

Device proliferation: However, the impact is not limited to security concern. There is a bigger challenge of making all the services available in the variety of devices which may be in use by your customers, and your employees. Traditionally, IT could make plans to systematically roll out a new type of device, new version of OS, new version of software like browser so it can be ensured that all the services work properly. There could be a delay of months even years before you upgrade. With CoIT you do not have the luxury.

Increasing and variability of transaction load: When mobile apps are in the hands of external parties, it’s hard to know when they’ll be moved to interact with you. Applications cannot have downtime in this world, only varying levels of use around the clock. Not only does the availability of mobile make your user population’s use profiles more variable, you’re now subject to their use profiles, and that can drive enormous traffic to your systems.

And some more points to be concerned about…

  • Alternate solutions are freely available on the net and are so easy to use
  • These technologies are perceived as the catalyst for next generation productivity improvement
  • You have so many always connected people who are on the move

Think about these problems … you may have more sympathy for your IT department and the restrictions put by them!

Scratching the surface

What we have discussed so far is really scratching the surface of CoIT. It is a manifestation of a fundamental change that is sweeping us.

To establish my proposition, I will need to answer 2 questions:

  1. Why is it happening now – what has really changed?
  2. Why did I mention earlier that we may have to discard all the existing theory of technology lifecycle management?

Well – I will need to more posts to explain these.


Trend in Social Media – 2012

Struggle & Contradiction in 4 different dimensions – that is how I can summarize the trend in social media.

  1. Open Web vs. Walled Social Media
  2. Social Media Usage vs. Social Media ROI
  3. Adding Social Dimension to Search vs. Biasing the Search Result
  4. Media Convergence vs. Social Media Proliferation

Having said that I need to admit that in another dimension there is no struggle, no contradiction – it is going up … up … up.

Usage of Social Media through Mobile

Whichever statistics you look at – whatever prediction you see; more people are accessing social media sites through their smartphones and tablets. More social media applications are getting downloaded. This trend is not going to decelerate in the near future.

The State of Media: The Social Media Report – Q3 2011 from Nielsen brings out these interesting facts:

  • Close to 40% user access social media content from their mobile phone
  • Next to GPS, social networking is the most valued feature in a smart phone
  • In last one year, Social Networking App usage has gone up by 30%
  • Social Networking Apps are third most popular app category after Games and Weather
  • Over twice as many people aged 55+ visited social networking site from their mobile phone compared to last year

Another interesting piece of stats appear in eWeek:

Of Facebook’s 845 million users, 425 million of them used Facebook’s mobile apps or its mobile Website in December 2011, up from the 350 million that Facebook reported last.

This clearly shows that mobile usage is growing faster than Facebook’s desktop usage.

1) Open Web vs. Walled Social Media

Till Facebook came in, web was mostly open. Two of the key drivers behind the success of the Web are (1) the ease with which pages can be hyperlinked irrespective of where it is hosted and which site it belongs to and (2) the ease with which you can search a specific page which has been indexed by search engine mainly Google.

However, most social media especially Facebook do not allow Google to search and index their pages. Even if you have access to specific pages in Facebook, you will not be able to search and find those pages using Google. You will necessarily have to login to Facebook and do the search. This is not true for sites like Wikipedia.

But, is that not a fight between Facebook and Google? Anyway, this is true for most sites which require a login. So, what is the big problem?

You may not want to classify this as a problem but you need to acknowledge that this is a big change because people are spending more and more time inside their favorite Social Media which is likely to be Facebook. What you do inside Facebook and what you do outside becomes almost two different worlds with very little linkage.

The question is:

Will this division increase in the coming future and make the web into multiple walled gardens?


Will social media become more open preserving the open nature of the web?

This issue was first raised by Tim-Berners Lee more than a year back but has again become a point of debate because of the coming IPO of Facebook. The views differ from “this is a serious problem” to “users don’t care” to “it is not a big problem” to “we need to do something about it”.

2) Social Media Usage vs. Social Media ROI

Look at these stats:

  • Facebook has more than 0.8 billion users (see Wikipedia)
  • Use of Social Business Software will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 38% through 2014 (see this)
  • Social Network and Blog continue to dominate time online accounting for 22.5% (see this)
  • 57% of the SMB surveyed plan to use social media marketing, an increase of 7% from the prior year (see this)

On every count social media use is not only increasing but increasing very fast. There is also no shortage of expert opinion on the necessity of increasing social media presence like “how social media is indispensable to news reporting” to “why social commerce will take off in 2012” to “why business won’t be able to afford NOT to use social media for marketing”.

This should translate into clear measurable benefit of social media influence … right?


There are several studies which put a dampener on this enthusiasm. Here are 2 of them which paints not so rosy picture of impact of social media.

In addition, experts are trying to figure out how to measure social influence. Can you go by the Klout score? Or, do you look at Kred or PeerIndex?

So, on one hand –

You feel that social media cannot be ignored and you need to be present and invest in it.

On the other hand –

You are worried about how to justify the investment.

BTW: Do you have to justify ROI on email?

3) Adding Social Dimension to Search vs. Biasing the Search Result

If you have to point out one company that is the prime source of the two contradictions mentioned above, it is obviously Facebook.

However, for this point it is Google is the prime mover.

To counter the influence of Facebook, Google has decided to go social, that is, to add a social dimension to everything that it does. Therefore, the search results have started showing so-and-so has either shared or liked this result. It has even started saying that you yourself have shared or +1ed this link.

Is this good?

Because you immediately get the opinion of people you know and probably trust.

Or, is this bad?

Because you are stuck in a close loop where “A” influences “B” and “B” influences “A” creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Only time will tell.

4) Media Convergence vs. Social Media Proliferation

Traditional TV and the internet will probably converge and reshape the way we choose how, when and why we watch television. All of our media devices including our television sets, computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones could come together to offer us more social and sharable television experiences that we can enjoy whenever we want. Many of us are no longer consuming digital content on a single device. We now have two screens when consuming media (TV + laptop, tablet + Phone etc) and the lines between those devices will become even more blurred. Instead, we tweet on our laptops while viewing a TV program, watch another show on their tablet during a commercial or look up lyrics on our smartphones while listening to a song on the radio.

As consumers begin to access digital content from a wider variety of devices — including, most recently, smartphones and tablets — publishers are beginning to offer subscription packages that allow them to access content on all of those devices for one flat fee. Because of the acceleration of print to Tablet swap, the smart traditional publications are already making the transition, but many will get left behind as printed media will quickly become obsolete as time passes.

This is one side of the picture.

Because of the dominance of Facebook, the other side of the picture is slightly obscure and not clearly visible. There is no doubt the Facebook is huge compared to all the other rivals. But, look at some of these statistics:

  • LinkedIn 277% More Effective for Lead Generation than Facebook & Twitter (see this)
  • YouTube hits 4 billion daily video views (see this)
  • Twitter is the most popular social media channel with content marketers (see this)
  • Google+ Hits 100 Million Users and may reach 400 million by year end (see this)
  • Pinterest Becomes Top Traffic Driver for Retailers (see this)
  • Tumblr is the emerging social media player nearly tripling its audience in one year (see this)

Granted, these platforms put together may be smaller than Facebook but you have to admit that there is proliferation happening in social media with niche players emerging. The problem is they do not talk to each other. Therefore…

Though –

Different media are converging.

The problem is that –

Social media are diverging and they are not interoperable…the walled garden effect that we had talked earlier.

Will we see a Social Media Black Swan in 2012?

No, I am not talking about Black Swan the movie; I am talking about the “Black Swan Theory” proposed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Till the black swan, a member of the species Cygnus Atratus, was described scientifically by English naturalist John Latham in 1790, people thought swan could only be white.

Similarly, there are unexpected and unpredicted events happen in technology evolution which takes us by surprise. The event has a major impact and we try to rationalize as if it could have been expected.

Are we going to witness any such event around Social Media in 2012?

Big Data – Is it a solution in search of a problem?

If you look at the predictions made for 2012, you will find a new entry which was not there last year. Be it Gartner, Forrester or McKenzie  – “Big Data” finds a place in the prediction.

So, what is big data? Is it the next path breaking technology which will change everything or is it just a hype which will die down after sometime?

Let us take a realistic look at what the term big data mean and what problem it can solve.

What is “Big Data”?

(The Wikipedia page on Big Data is not that good. The clearest explanation I have found is from O’Reilly Radar – here is the link)

Here is a short explanation.

Big Data is the name given to the classes of technologies that needs to be used when your data volume becomes so much that the RDBMS technologies can no longer handle it.

Big data spans three dimensions (taken from this article of IBM):

  • Variety – Big data extends beyond structured data, including unstructured data of all varieties: text, audio, video, click streams, log files and more.
  • Velocity – Often time-sensitive, big data must be used as it is streaming in to the enterprise in order to maximize its value to the business.
  • Volume – Big data comes in one size: large. Enterprises are awash with data, easily amassing terabytes and even petabytes of information.

In short – if your data volume can be handled efficiently by RDBMS you NEED NOT worry about Big Data.

How did it all start?

With the advent of cloud computing which provided easy access to massive amount distributed computing power there was a realization RDBMS cannot be effectively parallelized. In fact CAP theorem states that Consistency, Availability & Partition Tolerance cannot simultaneously be guaranteed. This led to a No-SQL movement and multiple non-relational databases sprang up.

Trigger Point of Big Data happened when Google published the paper on the “Map-Reduce” algorithm. It involves processing of highly distributable problems across huge datasets using a large number of computers. Map-Reduce is at the heart of Google’s search engine.

Takeoff happened when Apache open source “Hadoop” project which created its own implementation of Map-Reduce. The largest Hadoop implementation is probably at Facebook.

In short: Big Data requires large DISTRIBUTED processing power.

Why would you want to process so much data?

There are 3 basic assumptions which are driving the big data movement:

  1. Faster analysis of larger operational data will help you make better decision
  2. More in-depth analysis of customer data will guide you to better customer segmentation
  3. Insight into larger data set will help you come up with innovative product design

Companies that have successfully leveraged this are Google, Facebook, Amazon, Walmart, Yahoo etc.

In short – the ASSUMPTION is that more data and faster analytics will lead to more innovation and better decision making.

3 Prerequisites for leveraging Big Data

Let us assume that your data volume is large enough and you have access to enough distributed processing power. Will that be sufficient for you to venture into big data?

No … you need three more things.

  1. Business problem which you think that the data at your disposal can help to resolve
  2. Set of questions to be answered through data analysis
  3. Algorithm to analyze the data – this is the domain of the new field Data Science

Big Data will be useful only if you are equipped with all these.

Therefore, for most of us, Big Data is a solution which is in search of a problem.

Agile Projects are more Successful – Survey Result

Survey conducted by Scott Ambler has consistently (2008, 2010 & 2011) shown that Agile and Iterative Projects have been more successful.

Apart from the fact that Agile has been consistently been more successful compared to traditional approach, these survey result show two more interesting result – one of them is very surprising.

1) The gap between “Iterative + Agile” and “Traditional + Ad-hoc” has been increasing

It is not clear why there is a dip in the success rate of all types of project in 2010. But, leaving that aside, the gap has been consistently been increasing (2008=7%, 2010=13% and 2011=18%).

So, does it mean that people have really mastered the art of how to manage Agile and Iterative projects?

Or, does it been, people who are good at project management have abandoned Traditional approach and migrated to Agile or Iterative approach?

2) Iterative approach has consistently performed better than Agile

Though the difference is not very significant, all the 3 survey has indicated that iterative is slightly more successful compared to agile.

Does it imply that all the stuff in Agile Manifesto about “People over Process”, “Co-located Team”, “Face to Face communication”, “Cross functional team” etc. has very little to contribute to project success? When you scale Agile, you may need to violate some of them anyway.

Agile@Scale ≠ Agile@Manifesto

Word of Caution from Scott Ambler

He is quick to point out the known challenges with any survey.

  • You will only get responses from people willing to be surveyed
  • You risk getting responses from people with strong feelings about the topic
  • Very often questions capture opinions, not facts
  • The biases of the communities will be reflected in the results

This means (1) your survey sample may not represent the real world, and (2) your result may be based on opinion and not fact.

BUT, the question that we need to ask ourselves is…

…Has the time come for us to examine, which of the agile practices have a +ve correlation with project success and which are only rituals with no impact on the project success?

6 Game Changing Technology Events of 2011 – and 2 Non-Events

1. Steve Jobs resigns permanently

Steve Jobs, the genius is no longer with Apple.

Would you like to take a bet that within next three years, Apple will not be able to come up with another game changing innovation like iPad, iPhone, iPod, Mac or Apple PC?

2. Google goes social

Paul Allen says Google+ growth is accelerating and passes 62 million users, adding 625,000 new users per day and will probably have 400 million users by end of 2012. Whether this will threaten Facebook or not is less important than how this is going to affect search result.

Google knows much more about us than we can imagine – sometime you may feel that it can even read your mind – it is scary.

3. Microsoft chooses Metro UI for Windows 8

This bold decision is either a make or break for Microsoft – well not necessarily for Microsoft but for their OS business. If people reject it then Microsoft can say goodbye to mobile and tablet OS. But if it gets accepted then surely there is a chance that they will go on to be a strong player in both phone and tablet OS market.

Mobile and tablet UI needs innovation and Metro UI may just be that.

4. HTML5 has won the mobile war

What is going to stop HTML5, especially in the mobile? All leading players have adopted it – Apple, Microsoft, Google and now even Adobe. Have you seen the HTML5 version of Angry Bird?

Yes, HTML5 has won – would it have happened if Steve Jobs had not refused to allow Flash in iPhone?

5. Watson- Breakthrough in AI influences Google

How big a deal is IBM Watson winning Jeopardy!? It is just another milestone like Deep Blue beating Kasparov in chess which did not have any game changing effect? What is more interesting is how this has affected Google. Just after Watson won, Google has started replying to your search query with an explicit answer and it is continuously improving.

Are we moving towards an era where there will be an all knowing machine which will answer all questions?

6. Motion sensing technology comes of age

Which is the “Fastest-Selling Consumer Electronics Device”? No it is not the iPhone or the iPad. It is, according to Guinness Book of World Record, Kinect for the Xbox 360 which sold an average of 133,333 units per day, for a total of 8 million units in its first 60 days on sale from 4 November 2010 to 3 January 2011. Microsoft seems to have made significant breakthrough in motion sensing technology.

Is this going to be one of the key building blocks of required for a household robot?

A. No Facebook IPO

This is really an event that did not happen. Why did it not happen? Is it due to the launch of Google+ which spoiled the party, or the informal valuation of Facebook already too high?

Or is this a sign that social networks has less influence on buying decision than what people would like to believe?

B. Nothing on Cloud Computing

I cannot think of even one event in cloud computing which is worth a mention. That by itself is worth a mention.

Is cloud computing losing its value proposition?

Other not so significant events

Significant product launches

  • Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Windows Phone 7.5, Mango
  • iPhone 4S
  • Galaxy S2
  • iPad 2
  • Kindle Fire
  • Google+

Merger, Acquisition and Strategic Partnership

Patent war

Related Articles

Gartner’s 11 IT Predictions for 2012 to 16 – What does it really mean?

Gartner release 11 IT Predictions for 2012 to 2016 on 1st December, 2011. It covers the usual gamut of technologies – Cloud, Social Media, Mobile, Outsourcing, IT Budget and Security. The new addition to this list is “Big Data”. (see this, this & this)

Typically, such predictions points to disruptions that may happen in the near future. This is what they are really trying to say.

1. China, India beware – your bread-and-butter market is going to shrink

“…by 2015, low-cost cloud services will cannibalize up to 15 percent of top outsourcing players’ revenue…”

 “…by 2014, 20 percent of Asia-sourced finished goods and assemblies consumed in the U.S. will shift to the Americas…”

2. IT Manager – your importance is going to diminish – what are you going to do about it?

“…by 2015, 35 percent of enterprise IT expenditures for most organizations will be managed outside the IT department’s budget…”

3. It is Mobile … Mobile … Mobile all the way – do you have a strategy in place?

“…by 2016, at least 50 percent of enterprise email users will rely primarily on a browser, tablet or mobile client instead of a desktop client…”

“…by 2015, mobile application development projects targeting smartphones and tablets will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4-to-1…”

4. Cloud Service providers – you need to prove how secure and green you are

“…by 2016, 40 percent of enterprises will make proof of independent security testing a precondition for using any type of cloud service…”

“…at year-end 2016, more than 50 percent of Global 1000 companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in the public cloud…”

“…through 2016, the financial impact of cybercrime will grow 10 percent per year, due to the continuing discovery of new vulnerabilities…”

“…by 2015, the prices for 80 percent of cloud services will include a global energy surcharge…”

5. Social Media is a Hype … but … Big Data is not

“…in 2013, the investment bubble will burst for consumer social networks and for enterprise social software companies in 2014…”

“…through 2015, more than 85 percent of Fortune 500 organizations will fail to effectively exploit big data for competitive advantage…”


8 of 50 Most Influential Management Gurus is of Indian Origin

Every 2 years, The Thinkers 50, publishes a list of The 50 Most Influential Management Gurus. Harvard Business Review is the media sponsor and McGraw Hill is the video sponsor.

The list contains many well-known names. I have listed some of them:

  • Jim Collins (Good to Great & Build to Last),
  • Michael Porter (Competitive Advantage),
  • Marcus Buckingham (First, Break All The Rules & Now, Discover Your Strengths),
  • Don Tapscott (Wikinomics),
  • Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point & Blink),
  • Gary Hamel (The Core Competence of the Corporation),
  • Seth Godin (Purple Cow),
  • Tom Peters (In Search of Excellence & The Pursuit of WOW!),
  • Thomas Friedman (The World Is Flat),
  • Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) and
  • Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

However, what I find most interesting is that the list has 8 people of Indian origin!

  Vijay Govindarajan (3)
  Nitin Nohria (13)
  Nirmalya Kumar (26)
  Pankaj Ghemawat (27)
  Vineet Nayar (40)
  Rakesh Khurana (41)
  Sheena Iyengar (48)
  Subir Chowdhury (50)

The number of people of Indian origin has been increasing steadily over the years – from 2 in 2001 to 8 this year.

The details are available here.

One more point which I find very intriguing is that there is only one person of Far East origin which includes Japan, China, and South Korea etc.