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Rogue IT Buying: Does It Matter?

New PwC Study Outlines Range of 15 to 30 Percent

A recent report from PwC estimates that between 15 and 30 percent of enterprise IT spending is of the roguish nature. That's a pretty wide range, so we probably shouldn't rely on the folks who put this survey together to land the next probe to Mars; need a bit more precision than that.

But, to give them a break, maybe we can assume this range means that some companies are at the lower end, others at the higher end. The survey covered companies in the US with revenues of more than $500 million. Its purpose ostensibly addresses rogue cloud-services buying (eg, AWS), but seems also to address the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) issue that's emerged in an era of smartphones and tablet computers.

As we sit, the smartphone segment has several platforms, slightly reminiscent of the early PC days. This time, though, there are fewer platforms and much less chance that Microsoft will emerge as the monopolist. It's also unlikely that Apple will do so, as the company stubbornly (and successfully) refuses to license its platform. Thus, the iPhone's initial market share of 90 percent+ has settled into a market share in the 40s, with the diffused Android OS taking a similar chunk.

The dying RIM platform looks as if its best shot will be to be integrated into an enterprise solution from IBM. I've said before that Windows 8 phones will end up being important if major telcos embrace them. I'm having doubts, though, as I see chaos brewing at Microsoft with its unfocused OS story - by January, we could have one OS for phones, a different one for low-end Surface tablets, a slightly different one for high-end Surfaces, and another for laptops and desktops. Not a pretty picture.

The global legal battle between Apple and Samsung is the big story right now in the BYOD space. As a general rule, judges don't like to make business law and they don't like to resolve what they view as playground squabbles. Matters of intellectual property in the IT world are particularly difficult to adjudicate, as they represent the worst possible combination of Patent Office buffaloeing and legal casuistry. It's hard to believe that in the end Samsung will be prevented from hawking its wares.

So we live in interesting times. Rogue cloud-services buying is one thing, but let's think this through. It seems as if this buying is truly roguish, ie, not central to the mission. I doubt any serious enterprise app deployment will be done on a stealth basis that ignores the IT department entirely. I don't doubt that people will continue to bring their own devices to work, or demand their own particular device, depending on how many chits they've built up with top management. It doesn't matter if it's 15 percent or 30 percent. In the end, IT departments will respond to C-suite directives.

The real issue is whether or not your top management is paying attention to what's going on, and is flexible enough to bring whatever technology is best brought to bear for your company. If it is, these rogue issues will remain on the margins. If it's not, then your company will die.

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Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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