How would you describe your IT department? Are they innovators, laggards, or somewhere in between? In case you’re unfamiliar with those terms, they come from the technology adoption lifecycle concept–a sociological model developed in the 50’s that describes the adoption or acceptance to new products or innovations.
While that concept is generally applied to consumers, I believe it just as easily applies to IT departments.
Every major technological shift comes with varying levels of acceptance among IT departments. Some drive new trends (innovators). Some welcome new trends with open arms (early adopters). Others sit back and wait to see what everyone else is going to do (majority). Still others are reluctant to change, with some even actively fighting it (laggards).
That being said, some trends are out of your control. These trends are driven by consumers. It doesn’t matter which category your IT department falls under–you must adapt. In fact, you could refer to these as more than just trends. They’re realities. In other words, they’re not up for debate. You can’t sit back and wait to see what others will do. You can’t refuse to change.
1. The PC is on the decline
As was widely reported a couple of months back, PC sales recently dropped by their largest margin since 2001. Analysts predict this trend will continue, as consumers move towards the ever-growing tablet and smartphone markets.
What does this mean? It means application development is becoming far more complex. You no longer know how users will access your applications. Maybe they’ll use a PC. Maybe they’ll use a tablet. Maybe they’ll use a smartphone. There’s no way to control it.
Application development must adapt to this new reality. Developers must build applications that work across all devices and browsers, not just on PCs.
If you’re looking for ways to address this problem, you have a couple of options. The first is a concept called “responsive design”, which involves building applications with fluid layouts that adjust to the device’s screen size. The second concept involves building customized mobile and tablet presentation layers for each application, as described in this video. It leaves you with applications that truly look native across all devices.
2. You’re not the only game in town
In the past, IT departments were the guardians of technology within the business. Technology was a scarce resource–one that IT controlled completely. Unfortunately, this power created a “culture of No” among many IT departments. Because users had no other option, IT was quick to deny their requests.
Times have changed. IT isn’t the only game in town. When the IT department stands in their way, end users can now bypass IT entirely–often turning to SaaS options for the capabilities they need. This is creating a growing phenomenon known as “Shadow IT.”
What does this mean for IT? They must accept the reality that users have choices. If the IT department is viewed as a barrier to progress, it will be bypassed. These days, it’s more important than ever that IT departments abandon the “culture of No”, and actively work with end users to solve their problems. That is one of the biggest ways IT can curb the Shadow IT problem.
3. Employees will use their own devices (and you can’t stop it)
According to a recent survey, 81% of employees use a personal device for business use. As smartphone and tablets gain market share, consumer devices in the workplace will become the norm.
Unfortunately, many businesses take the wrong approach to BYOD. They view it as a threat–something that must be stopped. They’re halfway right: If approached from a device-only perspective, BYOD is quite dangerous.
What’s the answer? Dell’s Software CIO explains it beautifully in this CIO article: BYOD isn’t about the devices. It’s about access to your data. Control the data access, and you won’t have to worry about the devices, as outlined in this article.
While every IT department approaches new trends differently, consumer-driven trends are largely out of IT’s control. While some IT departments try to fight these new realities, it’s usually a waste of time. The best option: Figure out how your IT department can adapt to these changes, and how you can use them to improve business.