It all started with the mobile phone. They were – and are – consumer devices, and their popularity and increased functionality meant that most of the real innovations in IT were in the consumer space.
Tablets, games consoles, wearables – all are in the consumer space, and all have outpaced technology developments at the corporate level. Business has had trouble keeping up with demands from staff, who have complained they have better technology at home than at work.
Now, finally, the pendulum may be swinging back towards the enterprise. Consultancy Deloitte was released the 2015 edition of its excellent TMT (Technology, Media Telecommunications) report which carries a long piece on what it calls the ‘re-enterprisation’ of IT. (Yes, I know. Even Deloitte says it is a clumsy word).
Deloitte predicts that in 2015 the impetus for IT adoption will swing back to the enterprise market following a decade of consumer-led technological change.
“From the 1950s until about ten years ago, new technologies and advanced versions of technologies were usually adopted by the enterprise first. The mass market of consumers would then take years or even decades to catch up. For example, early PCs, were purchased overwhelmingly by enterprises: aside from tech hobbyists and the curious wealthy, who needed a computer at home?
“In the last ten years, however, there have been several high impact technologies where the exact opposite has been true, and the consumer has led the way. For example, large touch-screen smartphones were adopted first by consumers.
“Enterprises were not only slow in taking to these now-ubiquitous devices; in many cases they tried to ban or restrict their use for work purposes. Voice-over IP telephony is common in many large enterprises today, but was largely a consumer-driven product initially. Ditto for desktop video conferencing and web-based email.”
Deloitte says most industry observers tend to extrapolate trends based on what has happened in the last couple of years. “It’s called the ‘recency bias’. And since the most recent examples of technological adoption have been ‘consumer first; enterprise after’ (also known as the consumerisation of IT) it is not surprising that many believe this will become the dominant model of technology and telecommunications adoption from now on.”
But Deloitte says there is now strong evidence that things are swinging back to enterprise-first adoption, or at least a world where the consumer doesn’t always lead the way. It points to technologies like smart glasses, 3D printing, drones, and the Internet of Things as receiving a lot of consumer-related hype, “but it is businesses that are putting the technologies to practical and widespread use.
“The ‘re-enterprisation of IT’ may be an inelegant term, but it is likely to be a boon for the CIO. They tolerated consumerisation, but largely found it posed significant challenges. Consumerisation and the associated ‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend offered some benefits for the enterprise, but the sheer diversity of operating systems and form factors has been a challenge. If enterprise use of wearables, 3D printers, drones or the Internet of Things were being primarily driven by consumers the headaches would only be worse.”
Deloitte isn’t predicting that all future IT trends will be pioneered by the enterprise. But it seems likely that the consumerisation model will not be the ‘only game in town’ this year and in the future.
Download the Deloitte TMT report here.