The consumerization of IT is all the rage in the technical and business press these days.  After reading some of the articles that seem to pop up every week, you’d think that just by buying some iPads and iPhones you could transform your business.

Like all technology though, making effective use of consumer IT devices takes some thought and strategy if you want to get real value out of using it.  Employees may be happier if they can use their iPhone at work instead of a company issued Blackberry, but the actual benefits to the company are a little hard to quantify.

Here are some tips to making effective use of consumer technology in your business:

1. Apply consumer technology to a real business problem.  A great example of this is illustrated in CITE World’s article “Huge construction firm uses iPads and Apple TV to save millions,” where leveraging consumer technology to address a targeted issue can pay off in a big way.  The results also tend to be more measurable than just providing the technology to your staff and hoping it proves to be useful.

2. Figure out security “before” you have a problem. Most consumer devices aren’t designed to support the level of security built in to most business technology products. Take the time to figure out how you’re going to deal with a lost tablet or phone is before it happens.

3. Training is key. Just because a device is sold to consumers doesn’t mean anyone use it, particularly for a business specific purpose.  Plan adequate training into any new consumer device roll-out.

4. Figure out how to measure results, but don’t kill the initiative with over planning. Don’t debilitate the use of consumer technology in your business by insisting on an exhaustive plan and a complex system to measure results.  You should select one or two easy to measure factors that indicate whether or not the introduction of the technology is paying off.

5. Re-evaluate your infrastructure.  In the article linked above, changing the way files were stored and shared was key to making the adoption of iPads in the field successful. Evaluate the way you handle and store data today and how your network might need to change to best support any consumer technology you implement. Re-evaluating your infrastructure will help you identify what changes you’ll need make and prepare you for implementation.