• October 26, 2005
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Consumer Technology's Influence on IT

As technology providers increasingly design more advanced products for consumers, enterprise IT departments will need to manage these products as employees bring them into varieties of workflows and processes. As a result, the majority of new technologies that enterprises adopt for their IT systems between 2007 and 2012 will have roots in consumer applications, Gartner announced at its Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando yesterday. According to Gartner, large-scale, high-volume unit production and potential profit opportunities available in consumer markets have convinced many leading IT vendors to focus more resources and innovation on consumer products and services during the IT industry's recovery from the dot-com collapse. "Consumer IT will affect every enterprise," says David Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "Attempts by enterprises to deny this are doomed to failure, just as previous attempts to deny Wi-Fi, smart mobile phones, the Internet, and even the PC itself failed." Lower cost, consumer-grade technology will represent an unavoidable challenge for the CIO, but Smith says it is also an opportunity if savvy choices are made about where and when to enable and support the development of consumer technology products within the organization. "As CIOs seek to transform their rigid, legacy-ridden infrastructure into agile, efficient, service-driven delivery mechanisms, they must adopt a pragmatic approach to managing the risk of consumer IT while embracing the benefits," Smith says. "Otherwise, the CIOs risk being sidelined as the 'enemy' by their own employees." Although corporate policies and monitoring restrain employees from unsuitable practices, employees often do their home banking, book holidays, and instant message from the office. Smith says few organizations have been able to prevent the use of freely available consumer software, such as Google Desktop, America Online, and Skype, because users see it as a valuable tool in their daily work. In addition, Smith cites that many technologies originally designed for the consumer have been adopted by enterprises as a part of their company's business processes, such as use of the Internet, blogs, and instant messaging. "The usability, availability, and reliability is compelling, and is providing value to people," Smith says. "Traditional enterprise software remains critical, but many functions can be accomplished through technologies designed for consumers." In addition, the continued growth and influence of consumer technology products on the IT department will have another implication: reduced product life cycle. "Consumer markets will drive much of the industry's underlying research and development, rather than the military and business markets," Smith says. "This will significantly reduce product life cycles. Consumer products are geared toward ever-decreasing product life cycles." Related articles: IT Security Must Invest in Suite Products
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