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October 11, 2011

Consumer Technology Now Drives the Enterprise

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

The growing role of consumer technology and applications in the business market is a trend that has been underway for more than six years. Consumerization of IT In fact, analysts at Gartner have been heralding the trend for some time.  

“The growing practice of introducing new technologies into consumer markets prior to industrial markets will be the most significant trend affecting information technology (IT) during the next ten years,” Gartner (News - Alert) said in 2005, for example.

“As a result, the majority of new technologies enterprises adopt for their information systems between 2007 and 2012 will have roots in consumer applications,” Gartner said. It looks like the trend is just beginning.

“2012 promises to be the most transformative year for end user computing since the release of the IBM PC in 1981,” Gartner now says.

Among those four trends, the original premise, -- that consumers would bring their own tools to the workplace -- is number one. “More employees will bring their own computer to the office than ever before in 2012, most of them Macs, and if IT won't support them, they'll find another way that doesn't include IT,” says Gartner.

The new element is cloud computing. “Cloud-based applications and services such as Dropbox and Projectplace are convincing these folks that they can get better results faster, without IT involved,” Gartner says. 4 key trends

Microsoft says the future of one of its make-or-break products, Windows Phone (News - Alert) 7, rests on its ability to win over consumers and have them take the devices to work en masse through the proverbial "back door."

Google (News - Alert), Apple, and myriad other consumer electronics and application players are eyeing the same circuitous path into the enterprise. Consumerization no fad

For years, Apple had no interest in the enterprise, nor did information technology staffs feel compelled to support Apple products within the enterprise.

Steve Jobs's (News - Alert) disregard for enterprise IT was not a secret. He never wanted to sell to IT pros when he could sell directly to “people.” But a funny thing happened. Apple began to infiltrate the enterprise through the back door. That consumerization of I now has become a trend other suppliers plan to take advantage of as well. T

Two Apple innovations that pried open the door to the enterprise: the iPod (released in 2001) and iTunes (launched in 2003). The first trained consumers to expect intuitive and accessible mobile technology in their everyday lives, while the second laid the foundation for cloud computing. Steve Jobs impact

That is one reason why some of us now spend less time looking closely at “enterprise” tools, and spend much more time looking at “consumer” tools and behavior. It used to be the case that enterprise technology filtered down to consumers. These days, consumer innovations are much more likely to influence enterprise behavior, reversing the traditional patterns.

Historically, technology was invented at universities, then applied first to the largest enterprises, before filtering down to the mid-market, then to small businesses, and finally to consumers. Think PCs, fax machines, mobile phones and local area networks.

These days, most of the important innovations have come the other way. Think use of the Internet, social networks, smart phones, email, instant messaging, more-powerful computing devices and tablets.

That’s why some of us now spend more time tracking consumer technology and trends than “business” technology. It all ends up being used in business settings.

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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