Big Companies Adjust to IT Consumerization

 
 
By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2011-08-31
 
 
 

It’s more than a figure of speech to say that smartphones, tablets, and social media have turned IT inside out.

The hottest technologies to hit the enterprise over the last few years came not from familiar IT vendors, but from the consumer marketplace. As a result, savvy organizations have stopped viewing the consumerization of IT as a problem and instead think of it as an opportunity.

But the adjustment is no simple task. Traditional IT practices and development cycles are hopelessly out of date and can actually hinder an organization’s ability to remain competitive. Consequently, a spate of companies—including Chase Bank, General Motors, FedEx, Sony, Vodafone and 3M—are turning to new tools, including visualization methods, in order to decrease development periods and accelerate time to market for apps.

“The consumerization of IT is bringing two significant challenges to IT development shops as the business users gain a greater sense of empowerment,” writes Bill Ives, a consultant and author who formerly led the Accenture Knowledge Management/Portals client practice. “First, business users want their apps right away and will no longer tolerate traditionally long development times. Second, they want more elegant applications like those found on the Web.”

As a result, visualization tools, such as iRise Justinmind Prototyper, Protoshare and Axure, are gaining traction as business executives look for ways to better communicate needs, wants and desires to a development team. Think of this as computer aided design (CAD) for building software applications. The goal is to eliminate the need for paper specs and renderings before creating a mock-up. A team can see what the application will do before devoting time, money and resources to building it.

Typical features include interactive wireframes, data simulations, collaboration tools, widgets annotations, usability tests and HTML and document exports. These applications can be used for speeding innovation, securing project funding, selecting vendors for a project, validating design requirements, creating portable demonstrations and creating portable training for proposed applications.

“The approach represents a radical departure in the way software has been developed over the past thirty years,” Ives notes. Adds Jacques Marine, executive vice president of services at iRise: “Often, projects experience frustrating delays due to poor communication between business and IT over concepts, requirements, and designs.” He believes this is part of a “significant shift from cost cutting to innovation for IT organizations.”