What do Citrix, Eli Lilly, Twitter and The Department of Motor Vehicles have in common?

No, it’s not a set up for a joke!  These companies, along with several other standout organizations, presented at IDG’s first annual Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise (CITE) Conference and Expo in San Francisco last week. They explained how the consumerization phenomenon has affected EVERY organization – from pharmaceutical to government, from hot startups to multi-billion dollar corporations, in Silicon Valley and around the world.

I was thrilled to be at this event because, as many of you know, I am passionate about the impact consumerization of IT is having on our industry. In fact, it’s in the DNA of Citrix.

Our CEO Mark Templeton keynoted at CITE on Tuesday where he described his early efforts to “consumerize” the Citrix organization. Nearly three years ago, Mark had the then radical idea of giving employees the choice to bring their own personal devices into the workplace. It just made plain sense for a variety of reasons, from boosting people’s satisfaction and productivity to reducing IT’s responsibility for managing devices. Mark went to our CIO with the goal of on boarding 20 percent of the company to our BYO program.  In fact, during the course of three years, nearly 25 percent of employees have chosen to  bring their own PC to work.  Of course, this doesn’t include the number of smartphones, tablets and other personal devices we use that have become part of our everyday work life as well.

When introduced in late 2009, this BYO concept and our pilot program were revolutionary. And Citrix learned a lot during those formative years, especially about freedom, flexibility, security and control. This experience has indelibly influenced our thinking, our design and our strategy in Citrix products and across the organization.

Today, BYO is at the forefront of the “what’s next in enterprise” conversation. And while we’d love to take sole credit for it (:-), this phenomenon is undoubtedly the result of the world’s transition from the PC era into the cloud era.

What does this mean? Now more than ever, people expect mobility. They expect choice. They expect self-service. Not just in their personal lives, but in the workplace, too. They expect the freedom to work and play. They expect to have the same type of top-notch experience within their company as they do when listening to iTunes, streaming videos on Netflix, or even flying on Virgin America. User experience matters!

As Mark explained it, up until recently, enterprise IT departments have accommodated their CEO’s personal request for an iPad or another hot device as an isolated “exception” to standard IT rules and protocols. There was no justification for realigning IT around these one-off incidents. But today, when the exception is suddenly the rule and 50 percent or more of your company is demanding the same service…IT needs to support, not stop, this phenomenon.

There’s a solution. Mark explained the radical shift in mindset that must take place in how companies approach IT architecture. The new rules include device independence, wireless networks, self-service storefronts, and the convergence of public and private clouds in what Mark described as the “worldwide computer,” providing flexibility, ubiquity and security.

While change can be scary, it’s constant.  And those who embrace the change and work to build a modern workplace will see incredible outcomes. Everything from cheaper infrastructure, to better disaster preparedness, to increased employee retention and improved facilities management.

Mark concluded his keynote by reiterating how this transformation is driving Citrix forward in our mission to support mobile workstyles and cloud services. And I left IDG’s CITE event inspired not only with what Citrix has accomplished but also by other innovative companies across the spectrum who are creating solutions to meet today’s need for mobility, self-service and device independence.

While Citrix has been at this consumerization game for several years, we know we’re just on the cusp of a bigger, broader transformation that is changing our industry forever. We’re never going back to the old rules – the IT exceptions of before are now the assumptions of today.

I look forward to continuing this conversation over the coming months – in this blog, with our customers, and especially at our upcoming Synergy San Francisco event in May! If you haven’t signed up yet, please go ahead and register now.

I hope we’ll see you at Synergy!