The Challenge of the Consumerization of IT for Information Technology Professionals

Now that I have left the large Ivy League University for the smallest of Community Colleges, I find myself tasked with supervising the Information Technology Division.  One of the largest challenges has been managed perceptions on the work of IT professionals and how it relates to the technology many non-IT professionals can have in the home.

The phrase “consumerization of IT” refers to the trend of (and desire of) employees using consumer grade devices in the enterprise, with the sanctioned use governed by policies called BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).  A side effect of this trend is that enterprise users often used unsanctioned services and devices (also referred to as Rogue IT or Shadow IT [PDF]), including the use of external processing power via Amazon Web Services or Google Apps or external storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox.  While these may seem innocuous, they can create headaches for institutions, especially if things go wrong (such as the inadvertent leaking or publishing of personal identifying information).

Another disconnect occurs when IT is asked to do something new, or when the invariable moving parts in your institution’s IT infrastructure comes into conflict, fails, or becomes outdated.  There is often a gap in what ‘civilians’ think can happen versus what happens in their home computing environment.

Right now, looking at my computers in my house, I have 2 Windows laptops, a Chromebook (the first one, actually), 2 iPhones, 3 iPods Touch (iPod Touches?  Touchs?), 3 iPads, a networked hard drive, networked DVD player, a Chromecast, and a networked multi-function printer connected to a wireless network.  This is rather pedestrian, and for most users required little more than following a wizard on a computer or step-by-step instructions.  An advanced user can do much more, and as such requires a higher level of skill, more time, and sometimes more hardware and software.

As an example, since I have a networked hard drive on my network, I wanted to hide my wireless network.  This involved bypassing the wizard on my laptop and access the server in my router via the browser.  Can the average user hide their SSID?  Can you?  Could you connect a device to a hidden SSID?  My printer and Chromecast constantly need to be reset and reconfigured to stay on my network.  This required my reserving of IP addresses for each device.  Could you reserve an IP address for a device on your router on your home network by MAC address?  Could you find the MAC address for your devices?  Lastly, I wanted to restrict access on my kids iOS products based on time and content.  I felt that the best way to do this was to restricted access on a schedule and by lists by MAC address.  Again, could you make that configuration on your router?

Mind you, I am technologically competent, have learned new skills by breaking and fixing things in my home computing environment, and have enough background knowledge that I can Google solutions to my problems.  I am not most people, and neither are your average user.  The challenge is that your average user may think they are a computer expert.