Business News Daily receives compensation from some of the companies listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure
BND Hamburger Icon

MENU

Close
BND Logo
Search Icon
Updated Apr 19, 2024

What Is Consumerization of IT?

Consumerization of IT refers to the increased use of employee-owned tech devices and consumer-driven online services in the workplace.

author image
Adam Uzialko, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Editor
Verified Check With BorderEditor Reviewed
Verified Check With Border
Editor Reviewed
Close
This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

Table of Contents

Open row

A new trend throughout the global workforce is flexibility. People have become used to the work-life balance that hybrid and remote employment provides and that flexibility extends to the devices utilized on the job.

Whether it’s working from the office or choosing to use a Windows or Mac computer, people want certain technology in their professional lives — and this type of consumerization of information technology (IT) is becoming common. After all, an average person already knows how to use their own devices, many of which are superior to a company-provided option. That’s why IT departments allow employees to use personal tools. Ultimately, it can create a more productive workforce.

Let’s look at how it all works. 

What is the consumerization of IT? 

Consumerization, or the consumerization of IT, refers to the increased use of employee-owned tech devices — as well as consumer-driven online services such as data storage, email and social media — in the workplace. The trend represents a shift in how businesses adopt new technologies.

In the past, big businesses and government agencies provided the latest tech tools for their employees to use at work. These products, such as desktop computers, fax machines and scanners, trickled down to smaller businesses and, eventually, individual consumers.

However, in the 21st century, this trend has reversed. Consumers are now typically the first adopters of new tech — think smartphones, tablets and laptops — and businesses usually adopt them after they’ve become ubiquitous.

Consumerization has had several important ramifications on how companies conduct business and has spawned the development of powerful new technologies.

The pros and cons of the consumerization of IT

Pros

Optimized productivity

The consumerization of IT helps optimize productivity by allowing employees to use the tools they need in the ways they want to use them. 

When a business allows its team to use its own hardware, it removes the learning curve and disruptions associated with onboarding new team members. When an employee doesn’t have to wrestle with the tools they’re given, they can contribute in meaningful ways immediately. 

Improved employee satisfaction

When employees are given the independence to find their own solutions and workflows, they find new, unorthodox efficiencies. As these new processes become more effective, it enhances the confidence of the team and makes them more invested in the work they do.  

With the consumerization of IT, an employee is also free to update their devices. The business then benefits from the most recent cutting-edge technology.

Lower total cost of ownership (TCO)

For those who are a bit more numbers-driven, the consumerization of IT offers a lower TCO. When a company allows a team to use personal equipment, it reduces the costs associated with the hardware a new employee requires.

If an employee uses the equipment they have, it frees up anywhere from $500 to $2,500 in hardware costs per employee. Depending on the size of the workforce, those costs can multiply quickly. However, the consumerization of IT helps ease the initial financial burden of employee onboarding. 

Cons

Security

Perhaps the biggest drawback to the consumerization of IT is the security vulnerabilities it creates. Due to the lack of oversight, companies that allow the use of personal devices face more cybersecurity threats than they would with company-provided equipment.

A business that requires an employee to use company-provided devices for work can improve its cybersecurity by implementing complex passwords, multifactor authentication and firewalls to prevent cyberattacks. When an employee is using a personal device, there are challenges with enforcing those security practices.

Technical support

It can be difficult to provide consistent technical support when an employee elects to use a personal device. 

Not all devices are created equal. And since there’s no way to ensure a hardware performance standard when employees select their technology, IT departments struggle to address all issues provided across an organization.

FYIDid you know
If you provide employees with minimum technical specs for supported devices and basic security standards, it helps ensure performance and safety for the entire team.

Compatibility

When a team uses different versions of the same software on multiple devices, it could potentially create confusion around the user interface and functionality. However, as software as a service becomes more popular, these compatibility issues can be diminished easily.

Bottom LineBottom line
Although there are some issues, the consumerization of IT gives employees the freedom to use the tools they already understand while allowing the business to be exposed to cutting-edge devices.

How the consumerization of IT is connected to bring your own device (BYOD)

The consumerization of IT is frequently discussed in conjunction with the recent workplace trend of BYOD.

As a younger generation of professionals entered the workforce after the new millennium, the lines between personal and professional technologies became increasingly blurred.

Where the IT department once issued company phones and computers to be used strictly for work purposes, companies have now found that their tech-savvy employees prefer to use their own devices both in and out of the office.

While this may have been irksome at first for IT personnel, many companies realized quickly that allowing employees to bring their own devices meant spending far less money on new technology. In many cases, it also meant increased productivity from constantly connected employees.

So, the BYOD trend has grown into a full-on revolution and it’s spawned the development of new technologies that help IT managers keep employee-owned devices secure and help employees keep personal and professional data separate.

How the consumerization of IT is connected to the cloud

The advent of BYOD also meant an increased reliance on mobile technology, particularly cloud computing. Cloud computing lets employees store and share files over the internet.

Thanks to the cloud, employees can access company files, applications and networks anywhere their work takes them. The business world abounds with cloud-based services offering support for everything from bookkeeping to marketing.

But at the heart of cloud computing, as well as BYOD in general, are certain security risks. One of the biggest risks inherent in these consumerization-related trends is the inability of IT managers to secure all of a company’s data. With so many different devices and services being used to store and share information, data has lots of opportunities to get lost or stolen.

However, according to experts in the field of cloud computing, by implementing certain BYOD strategies and creating a top-down policy for data security, businesses can fully embrace consumerization while maintaining the integrity of their IT departments.

Did You Know?Did you know
Cloud computing also helps teams collaborate and coordinate for cross-department and cross-functional efforts.

Adapting to the consumerization of IT

Employees want to use their own devices and it’s a trend that isn’t going away. As more companies become familiarized with the consumerization of IT, many will discover new efficiencies and opportunities that can benefit the entire organization. 

Some businesses may still need to provide employees with devices that meet performance, regulatory or legal requirements. But for everyone else, a consumerized approach to IT helps your team work with the equipment they’re already familiar with so that they can focus on the work, not the hardware.

Edward Vasconcellos contributed to this article.

author image
Adam Uzialko, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Editor
Adam Uzialko, senior editor of Business News Daily, is not just a professional writer and editor — he’s also an entrepreneur who knows firsthand what it’s like building a business from scratch. His experience as co-founder and managing editor of a digital marketing company imbues his work at Business News Daily with a perspective grounded in the realities of running a small business. Since 2015, Adam has reviewed hundreds of small business products and services, including contact center solutions, email marketing software and text message marketing software. Adam uses the products, interviews users and talks directly to the companies that make the products and services he covers. He specializes in digital marketing topics, with a focus on content marketing, editorial strategy and managing a team.
Back to top
Desktop background imageMobile background image
In partnership with BDCBND presents the b. newsletter:

Building Better Businesses

Insights on business strategy and culture, right to your inbox.
Part of the business.com network.