Consumers will drive business technology

Many of the IT-related technologies that are deployed within businesses over the next few years will actually have their roots in the consumer space, according to research house Gartner.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  November 9, 2005

Many of the IT-related technologies that are deployed within businesses over the next few years will actually have their roots in the consumer space, according to research house Gartner. As technology becomes more integrated into every aspect of our lives – from the home and office, and into our cars and chosen forms of entertainment – this will profoundly impact business technology, the company claims. Speaking at the company’s annual Symposium/ITxpo in Cannes, France this week, Steve Prentice, vice president and chief of research at Gartner, predicted that the control of such technology will shift from corporations to individuals, effectively ‘consumerising’ business IT and creating an entirely new consumer to business (C2B) as well as business to consumer (B2C) marketplace. “What was once a straightforward two-way relationship between business and technology has suddenly become complicated by the arrival of a third party - the consumer,” said Prentice. “Now that the dynamics have changed, the enterprise will struggle to dictate how employees and customers use technology. Products will increasingly be designed for consumers and IT professionals will just have to work out how to use them within the organisation.” According to Gartner, several major social trends – including new working practices, expectations of instant response and greater personalisation - are already having a significant impact on technology markets. For instance, Gartner has discovered that for every one mobile device sold worldwide for business use, more than 20 are sold mainly for consumer use. Because enterprise IT is bound by the chains of legacy systems, flat budgets and risk-averse management, Gartner claims it’s failing to keep up with the pace of change in consumer markets, and is even falling further behind. “Current corporate applications simply cannot compete with the consumer experience and consequent user expectations. The technology used at home is so sophisticated that it outstrips the vast majority of commercial offerings,” said Prentice. “As home and office environments continue to merge, the knowledge worker of the future will demand the same level of functionality and flexibility in the workplace that they have got used to at home. When those demands are not met by the enterprise, history shows us that they will find the technologies and tools needed themselves in the consumer market.” “Ignoring the social context of technology is a recipe for business failure,” Prentice added. “If organisations continue to dictate what technologies their employees can and cannot use then they risk ignoring innovations that represent significant opportunities in the future, such as 3D graphics, rich media and consumer-oriented web sites as platforms.”

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