In today’s always-on culture, customers and employees expect things to happen quickly. A Google search takes less than two-tenths of a second! Need to reach home when on an African safari or traveling in a remote Alaskan Eskimo village? No problem, Wi-Fi and GPS are worldwide. You can connect with anyone just about anywhere, instantaneously. Consumers set the expectation – and the bar is high.
The consumerization of IT can be defined as “companies adopting technologies that first emerged in the consumer market.” These technologies cannot be ignored. For one, many are now ubiquitous throughout our culture. And these new technologies have forever changed consumer behavior. Consumers matter; they are our employees, our partners, our competitors, and our customers.
How is the consumerization of IT transforming the enterprise?
• Employees use their personal devices to connect to the corporate network. One recent study by Unisys and IDC shows that 95 percent of workers say they use at least one personal technology device for work purposes. Enterprise I T is compelled to focus on policy, device compatibility, and security.
• Employees expect access to the right information, right away. For example, when it comes to customer service, it is up to enterprise IT to simplify internal processes and connect data so employees can access information and respond to customers on the spot.
• The speed and availability of web-based applications force enterprises to be more agile and open. Enterprises today must consider the cloud, Software as a Service (SaaS), and other non-native applications to take advantage of the speed, scale, and new opportunities created in today’s open environment. Just look at the success of Android smartphones, which have overtaken Blackberry in number of sales.
• Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – need I say more? If your company is not already in the throes of social media, there’s no time to waste. There could not be better examples of technologies born in the consumer market that are completely transforming business and communication.
• The recession has changed customer buying behavior. As inc.com says, today’s shoppers are more discerning and intentional. They look for value, spend money they have versus money on credit, and look to buy from companies that share their values. So what does this mean for the enterprise? Customer experiences really matter, as do products and services that genuinely meet needs. Products with an over-abundance of unnecessary features are not as in demand. Promoting your common corporate values (such as being “green” or “organic”) is important. So is showing that you really understand your customer, empathizing with them and providing real value. According to inc.com, “Hyundai grew more than 12 percent in a dismal auto market by saying that if you lose your job, you can return your car. That’s empathy.
Consumers are still discovering new products, technologies, and services, and they are still buying. The overnight success of the tablet market proves that. Design, create, and deliver an exceptional product while leveraging consumer technologies, and voila! Enterprise IT could not be more important, as long as it is taking cues from consumers.