The Consumerization of IT. Bring Your Own Device. Personal Cloud Storage. These buzzwords have sent IT departments the world over into a tizzy. In fact, 37% of all IT related articles written in the last 2 years have been about one of these three concepts. (I totally made that stat up.) We, as IT people, are obsessed with the consequences of allowing consumer devices and personal software behind the corporate firewall and well we should be. The idea raises many questions:
- How can we support all of these various devices?
- How will we keep our networks secure?
- If they’re using their own software and hardware, do they really need us at all?
These questions, and their many variations, are important and must be answered. However, in the midst of our flesh rending and teeth gnashing, I think we have completely missed the biggest problem introduced by Consumer Technology in the Enterprise, it has given rise to the RETEs.
Recently Empowered Technology Enthusiasts are proto-geeks who have come to believe that they have a savant-like way with technology, because in recent years the technology they used to struggle so hard to use, now just comes to them naturally. Most RETEs are harmless, sweet even. Your mother became a RETE the first time she texted you from her new iPhone. But there is a certain brand of RETE who is very dangerous, specifically for IT Departments dealing with Consumer Technology issues, the RETE in charge.
This person used to fight with their Blackberry daily. They would get stuck in the menu tree and call IT to help them find their way out. They bought a netbook because it was tiny and shiny and cool-looking, but they threw it out a window because it was too slow and would drop the wireless network every 5 minutes. Then they discovered the iPhone, the iPad, and the App store. The heavens opened and Steve Jobs in the guise of Prometheus bent toward them with the flame of all technical knowledge, passing it slowly in front of their face. The scales of ignorance fell from their eyes and suddenly everything made sense. Technology was easy! Apps could do everything! And that’s the moment when the question that strikes fear in the heart of every IT Guy first occurs to the RETE. “Why is it still so difficult to do all of this technology stuff at work?”