- We are in the third phase of the ‘consumerization of IT’ (CoIT), where vendors are mimicking the consumer world in terms of design, delivery, and simplicity.
- The decentralization of IT budget and the democratization of buying decisions will further drive the proliferation of cloud-based services.
We are at a pivotal point in the collaboration and communication marketplace, driven by the continued trend of the consumerization of IT. Over the last five years, we have tracked specific phases associated with this trend. Prior to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, IT departments were tasked with the selection and implementation of enterprise communication and collaboration solutions. The democratization of IT buying decisions started with the first phase of CoIT, which focused around the adoption of consumer tablets and smartphones as enterprise devices (commonly known as BYOD). This provided the potential for improved employee productivity, lower costs, and easier work/life integration.
Three years ago, we noted a further shift towards services and applications that enabled employees to become more productive in the workplace. This second phase ushered in employee adoption of consumer cloud services (oftentimes referred to as ‘bring your own application’), such as Skype, Dropbox, and Evernote. With the widespread availability of the Internet, plus native apps for mobile and browser-based interfaces, employees chose the applications they needed via a simple download and a credit card (assuming the app wasn’t free). During this phase, we also saw the democratization of buying decisions, with sales directors purchasing conferencing and collaboration services (e.g., Cisco WebEx, Citrix Go To Meeting, etc.) to assist them in weekly sales meetings, or marketing departments taking advantage of services such as Salesforce.com, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social to organize their marketing efforts and engage with their customers.
We are now seeing the third phase of CoIT emerge, something I awkwardly call the ‘enterprization of consumer.’ (I warmly welcome another catchy title!) Consumer applications and services are influencing how we perceive and use communication and collaboration software. ‘Good enough’ capabilities are making unified communications a commodity, threatening established platforms such as PBXs, dedicated video conferencing rooms, and content management systems. As such, vendors (recognizing the demand for ease of use, cross-device support, and predictable costs) are focusing their efforts on making their solutions more consumer-like in their simplicity and cloud-based in design. Examples such as Cisco’s Project Squared, Unify Circuit, and IBM Verse are typical of this approach. Indeed, Microsoft’s recent rebranding of Lync (which becomes Skype for Business in 2015) epitomizes this phase. The third phase will continue to gain greater momentum and impact throughout 2015; simpler, more efficient applications are in high demand, and the vendors that emerge to satisfy these preferences will be the most disruptive to the current market.
Whereabouts do you find yourself in the three-phase adoption model? Is there an emerging fourth phase we should be monitoring? We welcome your comments and feedback.