We have heard a lot of talk over the last 18 months about the consumerization of the enterprise (see Ryan McClead's posts on 3Geeks End of Corp IT and CorpTechPocalypse). This movement from enterprise solutions (solutions designed to be supported on a large scale) to consumer solutions (solutions designed to be supported on a small or individual scale) presents many challenges to the IT department.
Why consumerization now? A little over ten years ago, a new breed of tech entrepreneur entered the scene. These fresh thinkers didn’t carry the baggage that many of us have. They grew up in a time when things simply worked. They never had to figure out how to use a modem to connect to other computers. They never had to use command line utilities to make something work.
"This fresh perspective and natural adolescent tendencies allowed this new generation to question previous methodologies."
A shining example of this is Google, a tech giant unlike any others before it. Google questioned every assumption placed before it and has proven that many assumptions do not stand up. Google has questioned how software is valued, giving away most of their innovations to consumers. Google has questioned how large data centers are built and maintained. Google has questioned the value of computer hardware and has built systems in entirely new ways. Most software developers assume they can leverage an infrastructure built on robust and fault tolerant systems (the enterprise view). Robust and fault tolerant are expensive to achieve and difficult to manage. Google has built their entire business on the opposite approach, they assume that hardware will fail. In fact, they build their own servers using components that are “sub-standard” for the industry. Google is able to do this because, as a software engineering company, they know they can write code to accommodate such failures. They realized that software IS the answer. In order to massively scale, their software needed to be extremely fault tolerant. And when software is extremely fault tolerant, there is no need to purchase expensive equipment (this is just one example, there are many more from which we can all learn).
Whether you believe in Google’s “do no evil” mantra or you believe they are acting in a destructive way, one thing is for sure, they have changed the computing paradigm. We have a new generation that has a fresh approach and does not accept the assumptions placed before them. This helped to fuel the consumerization of the enterprise, but without a marketplace that is ready for change you would still not see this type of shift.
"The biggest reason consumerization of the enterprise is happening now is because you asked for it."Let the pendulum swing – We have seen a move from Enterprise to Consumerization led by forward thinking companies like Google. We are now starting to feel the impact of this movement. IT organizations that have been pressured into adopting a consumerized approach are struggling with management and security challenges. As the enterprise becomes more consumer friendly, we are seeing an explosion in the amount of data being stored and shared and we are seeing a blending of personal and work personas. This explosion, along with the further blurring of lines between your work and personal personas, is creating new challenges. What is missing is an effective way to manage this new paradigm. This new generation of entrepreneurs are keenly focused on products that are developed for consumers, but have little understanding of or exposure to the enterprise. This creates an opportunity for a fresh approach to consumerization, because in my opinion the enterprise is where the real money is. So, let's start talking about the enterprization of consumerism.