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Is Consumerism in IT Industry impacting the Enterprise Applications?

Recently, I was talking to a friend from my school days who now runs a cooking gas connection agency. He showed me his latest Samsung Galaxy S3 with a slew of apps that he uses for his regular work. The apps that he uses include Reminders to Evernote to various social media apps. He is so familiar with the 'Apps' language that it is difficult to imagine that he has nothing to do with IT industry or that he was uninitiated to apps just 2-3 years back.
The more I think of it, the firmer is my belief that that smartphones have truly conquered the last standing brick and mortar businesses, people and activities. At the personal level, people are using different 'Apps' to improve their productivity and connect with people. What does this mean to enterprises and more so for the applications within enterprises...

 

Recently, I was talking to a friend from my school days who now runs a cooking gas connection agency. He showed me his latest Samsung Galaxy S3 with a slew of apps that he uses for his regular work. The apps that he uses include Reminders to Evernote to various social media apps. He is so familiar with the 'Apps' language that it is difficult to imagine that he has nothing to do with IT industry or that he was uninitiated to apps just 2-3 years back.
The more I think of it, the firmer is my belief that that smartphones have truly conquered the last standing brick and mortar businesses, people and activities. At the personal level, people are using different 'Apps' to improve their productivity and connect with people. What does this mean to enterprises and more so for the applications within enterprises?

I think consumerism of IT will create new benchmarks as the user base of the consumer and enterprise apps is common and thus there will be an obvious comparison between what is offered on their phones/tablets and what is offered internally within the organization to get the work done. The IT departments need to be ready for that and see how they can manage these expectations proactively.
Few areas that come to mind immediately are:

1. High End User Experience - Many users will use high end devices for personal use that will have top quality user experiences modeled around them. This will make them wonder as to why the app that they use at their workplace doesn't behave in a similar manner. It might also impact the user adoption of some of the IT apps that can make the underlying business processes dysfunctional.

2. Personalization - Many apps on the smartphone/tablets have the ability to learn user behavior and modify the behavior of the application accordingly. How many enterprise apps do this at this time? At best, the personalization is restricted to some standard things like currency, language and color schemes that one can choose. In fact, the enterprise apps can collect far more information than the consumer apps and utilize it meaningfully to offer truly personalized options. For example, while using the invoice entry application, if a particular user is making frequent mistakes on a certain screen, the user can be alerted and if required a short training capsule can also be provided.

3. Enterprise Social Connectivity - On a regular weekday, we spend almost one-third of a day in office. Consequently, all of us have our share of social network within the company. With some, we share our hobbies while with some others we share issues related to work. Can we tap into this enterprise social network to improve our work habits and outcomes? Suppose there is a customer service agent and he has a network of his peers and gurus in his profession. How that can be utilized on the fly to improve the experience of customer on the line? Can he take advice in calming down an agitated customer from his guru? Can he utilize the network to solve some unique problem that the customer is having? Can he look at the discussions happening within his network and learn from it?

4. Shorter Turnaround Times for Upgrades - Look at the pace in which the consumer apps are getting upgraded. Most apps follow weekly release cycle. What does this mean to enterprise IT apps? The users will expect a quicker turnaround time for their problems. While the complexity between enterprise app and consumer app is very different, the users may not be ready to wait for months together to get a particular issue fixed. The IT departments need to find a way to develop and deliver solutions to users on a monthly basis than the earlier 3-6 month cycles.

If we put this in perspective, to me, it means that the enterprise IT departments need to look at how they can provide similar features to users of their applications. The broad user group will push for such Apps in an enterprise setup. If the enterprise IT departments are not able to respond to these needs, they might also look for options outside the organizations (read SaaS and buy application services in the utility mode.

Where to start then? It will need a careful evaluation of current application portfolio to align and prioritize applications and then decide if an application or set of applications need to be modernized, retired or replaced. If this exercise is done with regular periodicity, say once a year, then it will help the IT teams to respond to the needs of their users effectively and efficiently. This will also lead to a much satisfied user group. Is there is an end point to this? I don't think so , this has to be an ongoing activity with some major technology breakthrough and industry dynamics acting as a trigger.

What do you think? How enterprise IT groups will respond to these trends or business users will end up moving to SaaS based applications?

Comments

Hi Neeraj,

Nicely written, in an ideal world, corporates mostly retailers need to make thier Apps to be more consumer compatible, but they always have to strike balance b/w available IT budget Vs Revenue or yied which app or portfolia is going to provide.

That's where Application Portfolia management(APM) plays significant role, where at-least any new apps/portoflia has to align with overall IT vision and business growth.
But in a long run revisting the legacy to align with IT vision would help.

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