Consumerization of IT: How It Will Impact Enterprise Applications

Disruptive IT Trends4 minutes readJun 18th, 2010

The recent Unisys-sponsored global study on the consumerization of IT has confirmed that the consumer adoption of new technology is a strong and growing trend. However, it also highlights that organizations are on the defensive and do not have a clear vision or a plan to manage this big change coming their way. Given that the enterprise penetration of these technologies is inevitable and has a great potential to be used to construct competitive business models, ignoring this trend might have significant business implications.

Organizations will come under increasing pressure from multiple dimensions of the consumerization trend. Today we see employees expecting to use the same technology at work that they are so accustomed to using in their private life. We are also starting to see customers and business partners demanding similar consumer-oriented services and capabilities from organizations that they are doing business with. Eventually there will be enough adoption of consumer technologies that competitive pressure will also be a significant factor. The early adopters will have a huge competitive advantage to invent disruptive business models using these technologies.

From new generation mobile devices to social computing, these technologies change the way we consume and share information and how we collaborate and make decisions. Today the immediate challenge for organizations is how to manage the rapid influx of these mobile devices and the use of social networks to ensure that enterprise resources are kept secure, risk exposure is managed, and reputation and privacy are protected. Over the longer term, organizations need take a look at their strategy as to how they will adopt these new technologies to create competitive advantage, increase productivity, and foster innovation.

The real challenge ahead of us is the adoption of these consumer technologies in core enterprise business applications. Whether it is access to business information, processes, and functions on mobile devices, or the use of a new generation of social collaboration capabilities built in or around the core business processes, tremendous value can be unlocked by modernizing business applications using these new technologies.

Mobile computing will allow organizations to increase the reach of their products and services to a large set of consumers who can access those products and services anytime and anywhere. From an internal perspective, mobile computing can bring large productivity gains by providing employees access to corporate resources outside office and work hours. It can also be used by employees to access corporate processes so they can execute their work in the field, while traveling or working at their virtual offices.

On the other hand, the social computing paradigm has introduced a great potential to significantly change the way we collaborate in the enterprise.

The public experience with social media is now being adapted to the enterprise to create the next-generation collaboration infrastructure. It is time that we move beyond e-mail and document-centric collaboration techniques to people-centric, context-aware platforms. This way we can better leverage our collective organizational intelligence and knowledge, and form virtual teams and communities in natural and productive ways.

Another important capability of this platform is the ability to integrate human communication with transactional backend applications to form an extended process management platform with ad-hoc, human-to-human collaboration capabilities.

So the real question that enterprises need to ask themselves now is where they want to be in five to 10 years in terms of their enterprise capabilities and applications. They need to start thinking about how their customers will consume their services, through what channels they will buy them, which capabilities will give them the most competitive advantage, and how they will collaborate internally in an increasingly competitive, global, and virtual business environment so that they can innovate and attract top talent.

Based on this vision, the organization will need to develop a blueprint, a strategy to evolve and modernize their business applications in order to adapt to this new world.

The bottom line is that the face of the enterprise is changing fast and this time it is not changing on organizations’ own terms. The consumer-powered IT research shows us that the balance of power is shifting, and organizations are coming under a new pressure — most unexpectedly — from consumer technology. These trends will have far-reaching implications, but on the positive side they bring many opportunities to those organizations able to take advantage of them.

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