This is the first of a series of posts that will attempt to provide a pragmatic view of the consumerization of the enterprise phenomena and demystify some of marketing cloud surrounding this term. As an industry, we are identifying the consumerization of the enterprise as a movement within traditional organizations to enable employees with tools and applications similar the ones they use in their personal life. This movement has been triggered by different technology factors such as the raise in the use of connected devices within enterprises or the emergence of new application delivery mechanisms such as cloud computing, application stores, etc.
While, undoubtedly, there is a tendency within organizations to embrace a new type of enterprise software technologies that look closer to traditional consumer applications, I believe the consumerization of the enterprise is far from becoming a relevant phenomenon in the enterprise software industry. From my standpoint, the consumerization of the enterprise is more of a psychological phenomenon accelerated by a marketing frenzy than a technological movement. As a matter of fact, I firmly believe that, unless software providers and enterprises make some serious changes, the consumerization of the enterprise might never expand beyond being a sexy marketing term.
Let me try to explain;
When we think about the consumerization of the enterprise, we can easily related this movement to a number of emerging disciplines in the software industry that are starting to have an impact in the enterprise:
- Enterprise mobility
- Enterprise social networking and collaboration
- Cloud computing
While there are others, we can pretty much associate any “consumerized enterprise application” with some the 4 technology areas listed above. When we look deeper into the enterprise technologies in each one of these areas, we quickly realize that the true enterprise-ready software technologies are far from being consumer friendly and the products that truly leverage consumer technology concepts are far from being enterprise ready. I know, it totally sucks :(.
To put this in the context of an example, let’s look at the enterprise mobility space which, arguably, is leading the charge in the consumerization of the enterprise movement. Currently, SAP and IBM (yes those two) are the dominant players in the space followed by companies such as Antenna Software and Kony. When you deep dive into the technologies offered by those vendors or talk to some of their customers, you realize that the experience is no better or simpler than traditional enterprise packages in the space such as the old Blackberry server stack. The sad thing is that the consumer market is full of mobile technologies that deliver a far superior experience than the enterprise products but, unfortunately, none of those technologies is well suited to be applied to enterprise applications.
In order to become a relevant movement in the software industry, the consumerization of the enterprise needs a deeper commitment and collaboration by the product vendors as well as the enterprise. Here are some of the things I believe are desperately needed:
- Enterprise tailored software products that leverage consumer technology concepts
- Deeper understanding of enterprise mechanics by the new generation of enterprise software vendors
- Flexible pricing models based on economies of scale
- Simpler software acquisition policies
- More flexible compliance, procurement and other enterprise regulatory processes.
Each one of the aforementioned areas represent is a major challenge for the new generation of enterprise software technologies. I will cover each one of the areas listed above in more detail in future posts but, for now, I am happy if this post is making you reflect about the realities of the consumerization of the enterprise movement.
In my opinion, without addressing some of the challenges in the areas listed above, the consumerization of the enterprise might be destined to stay as an engaging marketing line with a minimum impact in the enterprise software industry.