Judging by the hardware announcements coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, you’d have to agree 2011 is a stellar year to be a consumer. It might actually be the best year on record.
Not only were there several dozen media tablets revealed to take on the iPad, there were all-in-one PCs with 3D, notebooks with surround sound audio systems, smartphones that power dumb terminals, and hybrid devices that are blurring the form factor boundaries.
It has been a long time since so many innovative designs have really set my geek radar into overdrive, and it is a welcome development; in the short product lifecycle world we live in, consumer technology was starting to become tediously repetitive. We don’t often say it, but you have to give credit to the vendor community for this blossoming of consumer hardware love.
Adding to the excitement are the new processing platforms and updated operating systems from the likes of Intel, AMD, Google and HP. Each has its own treats and attractions that will give these devices a performance boost.
And, considering the strength of the Aussie dollar, it is likely that by the time these devices find their way to Australian shores — not all of them will — we will be able to buy them at a reasonable price.
Can you hear the techies and gadget lovers rejoice in harmony with the consumer droves in suburban belts across the country?
But as a chief information officer, you may just want to reach for the headache tablets and make sure which other C-suite executives you can count on for support. Because the consumerisation wave many have been battling in recent years with smartphones and social networking applications is only set to increase.
Already, there are countless reports of employees, both at the coal face and in the boardroom, bringing iPads into the office and demanding support since the device was successfully launched by Apple mid-last year.
Every CIO I have spoken to in the past six months has brought the consumerisation topic up in conversation and many are still struggling to formulate mature strategies to deal with it.
In many cases, the protagonists for the trend have been other C-level executives, who have adopted devices such as the iPad with relish and commonly failed to help enforce existing device usage policies.
It is, in short, a failure of leadership that risks sending organisations on the same costly path many experienced with the server sprawl era. Except this time, bringing an organisation back on track to leveraging the ICT infrastructure to achieve organisational goals instead of constituting a burgeoning cost centre will be a much tougher fight.
Unlike the virtualisation and consolidation strategies used to reel in exploding data centre costs, the consumerisation trend involves people and the culture they expect at work — and we can be mightily stubborn when we want something. With the surge of exciting devices seen at CES set to hit stores — IDC is forecasting year on year growth in media tablets of 85 per cent in 2011 — it’s likely the consumerisation trend will hastily pick up pace.
This demands a revised mindset by C-level executives that helps CIOs harness the power of consumerisation, which can be bountiful in areas of employee productivity, satisfaction and collaboration, with robust policies and consideration of technologies such as client virtualisation.
It also requires the same kind of long-term, economically prudent and engaged vision for the end-user workspace that is typically developed for the data centre. Indeed, the success of any long-term and holistic strategy for the future end-user device environment will rely on leaders within any organisation to first create the right culture and expectations among the workforce.
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