Monday, June 09, 2008

Consumer is the king

In the coming years, the majority of new technologies that enterprises adopt for their information systems will have roots in consumer applications.

If technology trends previously began in enterprises and the defence sector and would then spread out to the consumer market, increasingly now the move is in the opposite direction: people adopting technologies and applications which enterprises are then compelled to adopt. These consumers, who are also employees, are getting used to comforts, easy access and a certain way of living in their homes. And they expect the same environment when they are in their workplace.

Creating critical mass
Email began as a means for internal communication in organisation and then found its way into people's daily lives. But today, newer technologies and solutions are being introduced among consumers to generate a critical mass and usage. Adoption by consumers then makes enterprises to recognize the need for those technologies and implement them into their operations. Analysts point out that attempts by enterprises to void such technologies are doomed to fail.

"Initially companies did not consider using the BlackBerry which has now become a common mobile device among organizations," says Jayakrishnan S, VP, e-business service, Wipro Technologies.

Google has become the one and only search tool for a majority of Internet users. But a lot of the search results are redundant. This provides opportunities for IT companies to devise customized search options. "IT companies can leverage on the huge customer base that uses search."

They can build on the search by Google to give the user exact results that he/she asked for and reduce redundancy," Jayakrishnan says. Enterprises can also customize Google search for themselves to obtain search results, he adds. According to research firm Gartner, going forward, enterprises will have to identify a consumer trend and see how they can package their solutions as a business proposition to their solutions as business proposition to their potential clients. More and more innovation in the IT sector will be driven by the consumer market and not by enterprise customers along, says Gartner.

"With the access to SmartPhones the employees have started leveraging the features like Mobile Office to review documents while they are on the move using their mobile devices. The concept which initially took off as a backup solution for the consumers, is fast kicking in with consumer, driving a change that enterprises need to consider. Nowadays it is becoming common for companies to provide access to confidential documents/data on to their mobile phones," says Avinash Misra, CEO, Endeavour Software India.

Towards openness
Enterprises had their own solutons for employee to virtually share ideas such as the knowledge management portals. But these did not get employee acceptance as they had their own preferred modes of communication for bonding with friends and family. Organizations thus started modifying the available technologies and implement them with proper overall protection for data and information.

"A new species of workers are entering the workplace that makes use of platforms like Second Life for social interactions or just hanging out. The digital existence is on the rise with web 2.0 tools and high frequency of electronic communication. Organizations will have to look at deploying communication applications and devices that help retain this new generation of workers," says Deepak Kumar, GM, communications research in analyst firm IDC India. But the acceptance of these technologies will be slow among enterprises as they pose security challenge too, Kumar says.

A Microsoft official says enterprises are adopting the new technologies as they want to portray more openness. "Instant messengers are now part of an organization's way to communicate minimizing issues such as voice call costs and email delays. But they are modified and are behind a protected environment," he says.
Gartner believes that for the next ten years, the growing practice of introducing new technologies into consumer markets prior to industrial markets will be the most significant trend affecting IT. As a result, the majority of new technologies that enterprises adopt for their information systems between 2007 and 2012 is expected to have roots in consumer applications.

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