Top Five Consumer Technologies that will Create the Biggest Impact on the Business

Disruptive IT Trends3 minutes readJul 15th, 2010
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The recent Unisys-sponsored global study on the consumerization of IT confirms that consumer technologies are rapidly making their way into the business world. But what specific technologies are having the greatest impact on the enterprise? We know these include mobile devices and social computing, but are there others?

Here are five core consumer technology trends that I believe are either currently impacting or will soon be reshaping enterprise IT.

Mobility. Whether it is a system administrator checking the status of his servers on a smartphone, the business manager approving a real-time request, or a consumer browsing a catalogue and purchasing products, anytime/anywhere connectivity of mobile devices is a strong, consumer-driven trend that shows no signs of abating.

Mobile technology has the potential to improve business processes and increase productivity. However, few organizations currently leverage this technology beyond e-mail and calendars. The opportunity is to enable enterprise transactions for this major distribution channel. This is a huge modernization challenge, and one that we expect more organizations to take on in the near future.

Social Computing. As is evident with the phenomenal success of Facebook, public experience with social networking has been positive. The challenge is to apply the learning from that experience to the enterprise.

Today’s enterprise collaboration technology has severe limitations. The technology is still on e-mail and siloed document libraries. E-mail does not go beyond point-to-point messaging, information is exchanged between a few people, messages are consumed and discarded quickly, and content is locked in personal mail boxes. Documents posted to portals remain undiscovered and thus opportunity for innovation and productivity is lost.

The good news is, enterprise social computing platforms are maturing and we have the capability today to move beyond e-mail and document repositories. True human-centric, content-aware, dynamic collaboration can be integrated into the application platforms as a part of the business processes.

Next generation user experience. In recent years we’ve seen the emergence of new interfaces that have created a more natural interaction between people and computers. These include touch-enabled tablets and multi-touch interfaces based on gestures, voice, and motion.

Through powerful innovations in data visualization and interaction, these technologies are vastly simplifying complex issues around interacting with the enterprise. As this new way of interacting with information and devices becomes widespread, antiquated green-screens, aging drag-and-drop functionality, and tabular reports will no longer be acceptable by consumers seeking to do business with an enterprise. Now is the time to get ready before it’s too late.

Cloud-based services and digitization. Consumers have embraced the cloud computing model for e-mail, content storage and productivity applications like spreadsheets and word processing. Next up, in my view, are widespread consumer adoption of software-as-a-service and cloud storage. As this happens, and cloud application technology continues to mature, we will see more enterprises jumping on board to adopt cloud computing, making cloud deployment ubiquitous.

The Web. The Internet was the first consumer technology to be adopted on a widespread basis and customized by the enterprise. Its success has been so resounding that we have moved on to the next generation transactional and secure web, which gave rise to enterprise grade technologies like SOA. With this history in place, it’s safe to predict that the Web will be an incubator for many more enterprise innovations, and that this decade will produce enterprise versions of emerging consumer technologies and witness their adoption in core business processes.