The consumerization of IT: top-down, or bottom-up?

The consumerization of IT: is it driven by a few Apple-loving top executives, or many workers below? A new report suggests that it's the former. We're not so sure.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

The New York Times' Bits blog published an interesting post this morning about how Apple products are prevalent among the most affluent employees in the workplace. According to a recent Forrester survey, 43 percent of people who make more than $150,000 per year use Apple devices for work.

Nick Wingfield writes:

41 percent of the respondents who identified themselves as “directors” at their companies said they used an Apple product for work. For self-identified “managers” and “workers,” the figures were 27 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

But that wasn't what was shocking to me; after all, some of Apple's products are sold at a premium and the company still benefits from the perception that its products are somehow more elevated, more elite and more chic than their PC counterparts.

What was more interesting was the section toward the end, which suggested that Apple is benefitting from the consumerization of IT. That's true for the entire industry -- you know how we like our BYOD posts on ZDNet -- but Wingfield suggests that it's those affluent executives driving the change, rather than the masses below.

He writes:

It could also be that they have more leverage to persuade their information technology departments to support Apple products. Mr. Gillett says he believes the portion of people in lower-earning categories using Apple products will only increase over time.

“Someone influential walks into I.T. and says, ‘Hey, you gotta make e-mail work on my iPad,’ ” he said. “At some point, it gets very hard for I.T. to say, ‘No, you can’t have it.’ “

This struck me as odd. If consumerization of IT is about the greater population using technology more readily in their daily lives (then bringing it back to the office), wouldn't it be just as likely that it's the "managers" and "workers" driving that change as it is the "directors"?

Is it really fair to conclude that just because senior-level executives are more likely to use Apple products at work, they are therefore disproportionately driving the change?

What about the designers, sales reps and other employees? As a group aren't they just as likely to affect change?

I'd love to hear what's happening at your company. Where are the Apple products coming from: high, low or from all sides? And more importantly, is consumerization of IT at your company driven by a handful of top executives -- or by the many, many employees who no longer see fit to draw a line between home and work?

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