Consumer and corporate technology - erasing the boundaries

Recent analyst information has recognised that consumerisation is changing enterprise IT and that smart vendors are creating new opportunities for CIOs.

Senior executives plotting new IT products and services face an ever-changing array  information worker behaviours.


A confluence of new capabilities and buyer behaviours are enabling new competitive strategies and disrupting existing strategies. Many workers have better technology at home than at work — and many are also bringing such technology to the workplace and are expecting to complete work tasks using their own devices.


In this new climate for end user-facing technologies, individuals will take their data with them as they move from job to job. To succeed, CIOs will need to be prepared for the erasing boundaries between corporate and consumer technology, and their vendor partners will need to help firms go beyond traditional practices and strategies.


What is happening?

Known as the consumerisation of IT, research from Forrester suggests 21% of employees already want to use a single computer for both work and personal activities. Our survey data also shows that employee choice goes well beyond devices and into software.


Consumerisation is being accompanied by a move onto social networks and a continued move to the cloud. About 25% of CIOs have implemented, or are currently expanding, software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology. Individuals are also choosing, installing and using their own preferences for personal apps and services, even if the technology has not been authorised:


  • 22% of information workers use non-authorised web sites to help them do their jobs

  • 21% of information workers use social networking sites for work at least once a week

  • 16% of information workers have installed unsupported software in the past year to help them do their job

  • 9% of information workers are using micro-blogging technology, such as twitter, for work at least once a week


Forrester believes consumerisation has many facets linked to one core idea: individuals and executives are directly choosing and implementing technology products and services for their business and personal tasks, either bypassing or successfully influencing the IT organisation, in order to get technology offerings with transformative user experiences.


Vendors are reacting in two ways. New products, such as the Apple iPad, and start-ups, such as Dropbox, have built their offerings around the core idea of winning over end-users rather than the traditional IT organisation. Established vendors, such as IBM with LotusLive, are jumping on the consumerisation bandwagon and creating their own SaaS products.


What do the changes mean?


In short, a digital and consumer transformation means enterprise IT is becoming a lot more social. For end-users, the business process associated to technology implementation start to look a lot more like political and marketing campaigns than the usual engineering-driven IT organisations.


If the individual becomes the primary customer, not the traditional IT department, then vendors providing consumer IT will have to concentrate on assisting people during the job changes they make through a career. Such changes mean vendors will need to help individual customers keep track of their contacts, ideas and documents as they move from one job to the next.


As in the consumer space, having lots of individuals in a network creates powerful positive momentum. Vendors will prioritise partnerships with the largest online networks, such as Facebook, Google, and Apple, in order to strengthen the successful adoption of their technologies in the workplace.


As well as networks, the quality of software service interfaces will become increasingly crucial. Application programming interfaces allow partners to integrate and build services that extend the value of a core offering.


Finally, the move towards social business will mean anthropologists find new employment opportunities at technology firms. Just as Intel hired Genevieve Bell, an Australian anthropologist, to lead a team studying how people use computers, other large technology firms will employ more social scientists to understand end users better.


To successfully deal with the challenges, and to make the most of the opportunities, presented through the consumerisation of IT, CIOs and vendors will need to adopt a different mind set that takes account of the increasingly flexible and personal approach to software adoption and use.


Three point summary


  1. Information workers are choosing, using, and paying for the technology they use at work, whether it’s personal devices, unapproved online services and software, public social networking sites, or on-demand saas business apps.
  2.  Individuals and executives directly choose and implement technology products and services for their business and personal tasks. They either bypass, or successfully influence the IT organisation, in order to get technology that they believe offers transformative user experiences.
  3. Consumerisation requires a single-minded focus on the individual customer. end-user organisations, and their vendor partners, must pay attention to system simplicity, high quality service, continuous improvement and powerful business cultures.

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