99 problems but is the app fun?
There has been a lot of chatter of late about the consumerization of the enterprise. Techcrunch recently published a great post discussing the major changes currently underway in the enterprise software space. Changes that will result in happier users…and possibly unhappy incumbent software companies.
So what does “consumerization” mean? There is no clear definition but if you think about how we source and utilize consumer applications today you’ll find a pattern that is drastically different than our historical means of accessing software at work.
Over the last decade or so our corporate lives have included a scenario not too disimilar from this:
Day 1 at new job: Arrive at cubicle to find a desktop computer awaiting you. Possibly a sheet of paper with first time log-in instructions.
Day 2 at new job: IT professional installs any software that the firm has determined you need. Probably the MS Office suite, perhaps some industry specific tools, and for more forward thinking companies licenses are provided for cloud-based tools like Salesforce.
Days 3-30 at new job: You receive training on your industry specific software.
Everyday at new job: The software you are using is certainly enterprise grade - the workflows are confusing and restrictive, and the word ‘fun’ does not apply.
Particularly frustrating day at not-as-new job: You hear about a new software package that will definitely help you be more efficient and you’d like to try it out. You contact IT. They say no.
Let’s compare that to our current methods for discovering and using consumer apps.
Day 1…no, Minute 1: Search the app store for something you want.
Minute 2: Download an app.
Minute 3: Play with the app. If the app is fun AND meets your needs you smile and put the phone back in your pocket. If it stinks you delete it and go back to Minute 1.
And now these worlds are beginning to collide. The incredible popularity of smartphones and tablets have forced IT departments to allow users to choose the device they want to work with (and it is often more than one device). Of course these devices all provide access to app stores which enable users to download software without getting the approval of anyone. Free trials, pay-as-you-go, and generally inexpensive per-user license costs have severely restricted traditional IT’s ability to lock-down users.
So this means we are finding lots of new apps while we do our jobs. And it turns out a lot of consumer apps can be quite useful at work too. Even more exciting is that new technology companies like ours have turned their focus to not only providing enterprise grade tools, but also emulating the usability…and fun…of the best consumer apps. So basically the user gets to have her cake and eat it too. Plus she gets to choose which flavor cake, which bake shop to buy it from and when to eat it!