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US Government Embraces Consumerization of IT

Government agencies are embracing IT consumerization and moving to more cutting edge devices like iPhones and iPads.

The agencies of the United States government, under the guidance of CIO Vivek Kundra, are adapting to the consumerization of IT and letting users make their own technology decisions. Unfortunately for RIM, it seems that users are not choosing BlackBerry, which has previously been dictated as the government standard.

A Washington Post article describes how traditional platforms are being replaces by iPhones and iPads. "The flashy consumer products that have been adopted in the corporate workforce--upending BlackBerrys for iPhones, Microsoft Outlook for Gmail, and lately laptops for iPads--are now invading the federal government. The State Department. The Army. The Department of Veterans Affairs. NASA."

The push for consumerization is coming from both the top and the bottom. Senior officials and end users alike are already using iPhones, iPads, and Android smartphones for personal use. They are familiar with the devices and they see the value of being able to use those same devices at work. RIM has failed to keep up, and many workers--especially the younger talent that the government would like to attract to public sector jobs--see BlackBerry smartphones as a stodgy, outdated technology.

The transition is just one more thing contributing to the apparent freefall of RIM. Its attempts to re-energize the BlackBerry smartphone have more or less failed. Its PlayBook has been panned by critics and fizzled its way onto the tablet market. Investors are increasingly disgruntled with the direction of the company and there are grumblings that perhaps the co-CEOs should be replaced with fresh leadership.

Does your organization rely on RIM, and BlackBerry smartphones for mobile communication? Should you consider opening your environment up to consumerization and letting end users choose their own technology?

RIM still has a slim advantage when it comes to providing IT admins with the management and security infrastructure necessary to effectively maintain the mobile devices. But, that one-dimensional marketing mantra is apparently not enough to keep organizations from migrating away to alternative platforms. RIM has even tacitly acknowledged its declining market share with a desperation move to bring iPhone and Android management features into the BlackBerry Enterprise Server repertoire.

Apple has made significant strides to make iOS more secure and provide IT admins with the tools necessary to manage and secure iPhone and iPads, but iOS is still locked down and some organizations may find it stifling to have to do things Apple's way or not at all. Android is more open, but that openness comes with some security risks that may be difficult to control.

Potential issues aside, though, IT consumerization is gaining momentum.

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