For some companies, BYOx is the norm, but for many, IT has tightened control over devices, applications, and tech services. Whether your company embraces BYOx or holds tightly to corporate ownership has a lot to do with how well your IT and business units are aligned.

Digital transformation is a watchword today for many businesses. In an era defined by cloud computing and mobile strategies, companies are pursuing new IT tools that can be disruptors of existing operational procedures.

The “bring your own …” trend has been one of the chief disruptors. Mobile devices drastically changed the front-end experience for both the general workforce and the technical staff as popularity in the consumer space led to demands in the office and new hurdles for IT.

One of the top challenges for front-end management remains the way that devices are distributed and supported, but momentum continues towards corporate ownership. For the fourth straight year, our organization’s research found that the number of companies preferring to control all corporate devices has increased.

But what started with devices has now expanded to an ever-growing array of new collaboration and communication tools. Mirroring the BYOD trend, workers eager to move beyond legacy corporate email systems, intranets, or project management applications can often be up and running on cloud- or mobile-based alternatives with little more than a simple registration.

IT departments’ embrace of these new tools has not always kept up with employees’ desire to use them. The process of deciding on new technology has typically been the domain of IT. Though business units had varying degrees of input, IT has been in the driver’s seat thanks to their specialized expertise. It was up to the IT team to find the right balance between the benefits – greater worker productivity and job satisfaction – and the security and corporate risks to intellectual property.

Today there are more layers of abstraction surrounding end user technology, fewer barriers preventing access and greater tech literacy among business units. Companies seek to build environments where technology is acquired quickly yet appropriately, and where all groups have a voice in the decision.

Digital disruption is now a massive threat to daily operations and ongoing reputation.

The pitfalls of “rogue IT” or “shadow IT” are well understood. But the good news is that most businesses are shifting to operational models that keep IT in the loop even as business units and departments play a greater role in the evaluation and procurement of technology solutions.

Building a new process for selecting technology is a major effort for many companies, and most firms are still groping for the right approach. Through all the churn, the role of IT has been somewhat up in the air. Some feared that IT’s importance would fade as technical knowledge grew in other areas. However, businesses are clearly finding that IT still has a vital guiding role to play, even as business units become more prominent and more independent.

For their part, business units are figuring out how much technical ownership they want to take on. Adventures in rogue IT have shown business units that there is more to technical solutions than they initially assumed. Just like IT must learn more about the business side, the business side must learn more about IT.

The collaborative environment implies shifts in responsibility. Obligations that previously fell to the IT team are now shared between IT and lines of business. It does not necessarily reduce the role of IT; rather, it opens bandwidth for new strategic work.

Two areas, though, business units still view as IT-centric:

  • Security is a growing concern for several reasons. Often employees are handling more technology than they know how to secure. Additionally, digital disruption is now a massive threat to daily operations and ongoing reputation. Organizations need holistic security measures. Business units feel IT is well-suited to oversee those measures.
  • The second area is the discovery of new technology. Cloud and mobility enable business units to quickly digitize certain functions, but they also create a platform for innovation of unimagined possibilities. IT is better suited to imagining technical solutions with new pieces.

Even in areas where IT remains the responsible party, there is more synergy than ever between different functions. Among the different behaviors IT could adopt to help drive strategy, the leading request from business units is education on technical matters. IT can remain a center of competence while also distributing knowledge so that technology is used safely and efficiently.