Enterprise IT Is On Verge Of ‘Consumerization’

Despite their efforts (if there were any) Apple has not been able to bring Macs into the enterprise segment since cool and expensive aren’t part of the CEO’s dictionary. Windows dominates the market and to Microsoft’s credit their Windows suite of products (Server and desktop) work well in the environment. Recently, Microsoft added iOS and Android devices to SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager), this was a great move signalling the fact that Microsoft understood the enterprise user or their user in general.

In the enterprise, a user is handed devices that work with the corporate network but the mobile devices are a lot more personal. Managing multiple devices with one’s subjective choice and the device’s capabilities is a challenge. As a user my company hands me a BlackBerry for its email security capabilities but I prefer WP7 or the iPhone since they’re far more productive in other tasks. When higher ups in management started bringing in iPhones to work, the IT administrators had to make sure their infrastructure could support these devices. Soon with Android phones becoming common, the trend was clear, consumer technology was becoming a part of the enterprise. Each person likes to use his own device. Given a choice even the IT admin wouldn’t touch a BlackBerry. (IT guys are cooler than the stereotype.)

With Azure, I wrote about how it is the third Windows bridging the desktop+mobile (phones, slates and laptops) with servers for the users. Products like Intune and SCCM allow IT admins to manage these mobile and stationary devices. Office Web Apps let users use their own choice of browser and one isn’t limited to IE, be it the iPad or Chromebook, a user can continue working with his choice of consumer technology. These aren’t the traditional enterprise tech but everyday consumer targeted products that a user wants to be able to work with for his 9 to 5 job. Microsoft calls the trend ‘Consumerization’ and I am excited about this. As I wrote to Stephen Rose, as technology analysts who suggest IT solutions, what will come in the next few years is often conveniently ignored and by the time what is available today is deployed we are one step behind. The cycle continues. Once the CIOs start seriously looking at consumerization, there will be a lot more agility and people involved with IT will have a more affirmative say in decisions.

Microsoft has a lot of resources on what they see Consumerization is and them as a company realizing this signifies that when working on enterprise products, the consumer market will be kept in mind much like how SCCM included support for iOS and Android.