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Every year there are a few trends with catchy names that make the rounds of the press and analyst circuit. Some are truly important and groundbreaking, others are just passing fads and only time will tell which are of real value. One trend that has bubbled to the top is “consumerization of IT.” Is this a real trend? Yes. But what does it mean?

To most, the consumerization of IT is all about how employees (consumers) are bypassing IT and using their own point solutions (often on personal accounts or personal laptops/phones/tablets) to get their job done. Employees might believe they are doing a good thing by doing their individual jobs better, but in reality, the good of the individual is coming at the cost of the greater good. It is a huge problem we need to fix, and in order to do that we need to address why employees are taking matters into their own hands to begin with.

There are fundamentally two issues at work here. First, users have specific needs that are not being met with their current tool sets and so are using whatever tool they can find to get the job done. They don’t typically pay attention to the larger ramifications of its use, or even how it might interwork with their other tools. They have a problem, they find a solution, end of story. It may fix things in the short term, but longer term IT, security and administration issues have not been thought through.

Second, IT’s departmental budgets are being cut and they are being asked to do more with less. With only two arms and ten fingers, they are going to have to move to the cloud, whether they like it or not. IT must get users under control, and cloud services, especially those designed with their IT and the organization (as opposed to just the end user) in mind will need to be at the top of their lists.

So why is this important? Because 2012 will be the year of “cloud commuting.” As organizations disperse, and telecommuting becomes a permanent reality in companies from small to large, creating an environment where employees always feel like they’re working from headquarters is critical to organizational success. Consumerization of IT must be controlled, and cloud and hybrid cloud solutions are going to be the only way to cut costs, control the proliferation of good for the individual/bad for the company point solutions, and ensure survival in these hard economic times.

To hear more of why 2012 will be the year of cloud commuting, come along to my session at CloudBeat 2011.

*The original post appeared in VentureBeat.

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