如今老式的企业软件已经渐渐行不通了。《快速公司》（Fast Company）的撰稿人马西娅•康纳写道，“80后”的年轻人受Facebook和以及其它类似的直观平台的影响，非常害怕面对冗长无比的电子表格，也不愿意解码web 1.0界面，而是希望他们的工作软件能像他们在私人生活中使用的应用程序一样简单易用，这种趋势就是所谓的IT消费化。而且这些年轻人也愿意从企业之外寻找最适合他们的软件产品。
It's out there: lurking in cubicles, infiltrating boardrooms, pulsing through desktops and laptops and tablets. Viral. Relentless. Unstoppable.
Rogue IT is the name given to the informal, ad hoc software and devices brought by employees into the workplace. If you've ever taken your own iPad to work or used cloud-based software like Evernote or Dropbox in the office, you may well be an offender. And you're not alone. Some 43% of businesses report that their employees are using cloud services independently of the IT department, according to a recent survey of 500 IT decision makers.
In the past, these enterprise software and hardware decisions were often the exclusive domain of a company's chief information officer or CIO, the senior executive in charge of information technology and computer systems. "Sitting in his high chair in a grey suit barking orders, [the CIO would make] product decisions for big companies with even larger user bases," explains Peter Fenton of tech investors Benchmark Capital. Rogue IT turns that model on its head, effectively crowdsourcing IT choices to employees. So where does this leave the venerable CIO? And what does it mean for the future of IT at the world's largest enterprises?
The good news is that enterprise IT has plenty of room for improvement. "[Traditional IT] carries connotations of interminable rollouts, bewildering interfaces, obscure functionality and high prices," writes CIO.com's Bernard Golden. Security, compliance and back-end compatibility have traditionally topped CIO wish lists, not usability. As a result, employees have sometimes been left with programs that are anything but intuitive. This exacted a heavy toll in terms of time, money and organizational well-being.
In the past, however, front-line workers would have had little choice but to struggle with these clunky legacy programs dictated from above. But the rapid growth of online, cloud-based software options (known as SaaS, or software-as-a-service) has now enabled ordinary workers to bypass IT and "take matters into their own hands," explains TechCrunch contributor Alan Cohen.
Bloated, enterprise software no longer cuts it. Seduced by Facebook (FB) and similarly intuitive platforms at home, millennials balk at staring down monster spreadsheets or decoding web 1.0 UIs at work, writes Fast Company contributor Marcia Conner. Increasingly, they expect their work suites and software to be just as user-friendly as the apps they know and love in their personal lives, a trend known as the consumerization of IT. And they're willing to go outside company walls to find products that work best for them.
File sharing offers a ready example. Microsoft (MSFT) SharePoint is traditional enterprise software used by organizations to manage documents and share content. Critics complain, not infrequently, that the platform can be rigid, convoluted and web unfriendly.
While not quite as robust, Box -- a file sharing service launched in 2005 -- offers an easy-to-use, online alternative. With little to download or install, users can share content after a few clicks. Freemium pricing encourages adoption. Like many popular SaaS solutions on the web (Yammer, LastPass, Dropbox, Evernote), Box is generally free for individual users. Charges are only assessed for upgraded and enterprise-wide editions.
"Individuals and groups . . . start using the product initially on their own, in many cases leading their corporate IT departments to sign up for premium management and administration tools," writes GeekWire's Todd Bishop, summing up the typical viral adoption model. An app might start out with a dedicated clique of users in marketing, for instance, then one day jump departmental walls and go company-wide.
Meanwhile, the process is fueled by contemporary BYOD (that's Bring-Your-Own-Device) culture. With personal smartphones and tablets entering the workplace, employees are no longer tied to their work PC, with its legacy software determined from on high. Firing up cloud-based apps on your own iPad requires no blessing from IT, no complex approval procedure, writes PCWorld's Tony Bradley.
In the end, the best SaaS solutions rise to the top democratically. Employees do the hard work of beta-testing different options in the workplace and - in the best-case scenarios - the most effective software emerges naturally. The CIO's role in the selection process is reduced to signing off on premium, enterprise-wide editions of the most popular apps.
Yammer CEO David Sacks, whose company (a "Facebook for the office") was recently acquired by Microsoft for $1.2 billion, points out the newfound authority of employees and end users: "They're saying, 'This is the tool I want to use. This is the tool that's going to make me productive. And come on, IT, let's get with the program.'"