≡ Menu

Consumerization of the Enterprise

I wrote this as a guest post for CRM Outsiders where as an Employee of SugarCRM I stated agreement with Mark Benioff of Salesforce.  After this post, one may wonder whether I will be invited back for more, or not. So, I will quickly get to the point. Two things happened during this past week which drove me to write this post.

  1. Mark Benioff wrote a great article, and the consumerization of the Enterprise is certainly upon us – a position that I agree with
  2. Paul Greenberg  wrote a great post, which hit home on a few fronts – this article is a way to show respect for the thoughts

Starting with Paul’s post first, he raised several issues, but the one that hit home is that there is too much “Jockeying for position”. The reference was not specific to any particular vendor, but the point was made.  Paul stated the following: “When this manipulating jockey decides to differentiate to get “position” they denigrate what others do.” Paul is correct, and it is rather interesting as well that we are in the CRM business. While we certainly would like to do well, there are certain topics where that agreement leads to simply a better product.

Paul went on to say “Compete by the strength of your offerings”. The core of the offerings of any company goes beyond the products that are built, but are also the people behind the products. I would like to further point out that in the future of…well, the future of just about everything, the differentiators will increasingly be the people. As friend and IDC analyst, Mike Fauscette, likes to state, “People are the platform”. My simple conclusion on this topic is that the boundary between work and non-work is getting fuzzier by the day. Making the next part of this post that much more interesting.

Why I believe Mark Benioff agrees with me

Now, not to upset the apple cart by trying to play nice, and then jockey for position. A wording trick suggested to me by a friend, changes the positioning, doesn’t it? In many recent conversations and even comments on other’s blogs I have made the case that there has been a large shift in expectations by people regarding Computing and Access. Until around 2002 – 2004 or so, the faster computer you had access to was at work, and the fastest data pipe you had access to was also at work. Is this true anymore?

If you combine that phenomenon with the availability of cloud based applications, both consumer and enterprise, consumer is growing faster. (Sidebar – anyone who thinks that Gmail, LinkedIn or Facebook are not cloud apps, friend me and we can chat about it).  Ok, enough setting up the scenario, what exactly are we in agreement on? Here is a quote from the article (actually the prequel) “We need to transform the business conversation the same way Facebook has changed the consumer conversation. Market shifts happen in real time, deals are won and lost in real time, and data changes in real time.”

But, it is about usability, not technology

I am not going to try and say “I agree, but” (that is like saying “I’m sorry, but”). I will however extend the thought, in the following way – So, for all 90% or more of you who have one or more of the applications I just mentioned in the sidebar above, how long did you spend reading the manual for any of these applications? Facebook even changed the application 2 or 3 times (depending upon when you joined) and even after the yelling and screaming and the joining of the ‘no do not change FaceBook’ fan page – 350 million of us are members and 175 million log in each day. Facebook did more than change the consumer conversation, it changed the enterprise conversation as well.

Ok, I lied, it is not only about usability, it is about the fact that we enjoy the social dynamic these applications provide. It is also no longer a technology play; that is simply accepted. I am probably the only one who takes a break from Facebook and Skype at home by checking my work email. The boss (my wife) tried to block access to work from home, but the IT department (me) pushed back. If she was successful (unplugging the router) then I just access work via my iPhone and 3G. While this sounds a bit backwards, how far off am I? It is about usability and culture. People, Process and Technology – help people to succeed and we will all succeed. If people enjoy where they spend their time (online and offline) they will spend more time there.

This is the first part in a series where I will explore other topics on the consumerization of the enterprise, data and cultural silos.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Esteban Kolsky March 10, 2010, 6:47 PM

    good job, and good wording. i happen to agree that consumerization of the enterprise, or the destruction of the barriers life-work is going to be the future of us. of course, lots of people will want to keep it balanced and the illusion that they can control two separate lives… be my guest.

  • scorpfromhell March 11, 2010, 11:20 PM

    Mitch, sorry for being late to party, yet again. Funny that you should cover this topic about usability at exactly the same time am moderating a debate between UX gurus & developers for a deal.

    Me & the UX lead are in sync – the UI needs to be slick … bring about the social elements & allow the users to do what they want.

    Me & the developers are in sync – the ecommerce system needs to be robust yet amenable to changes in the social part of it, so an added complexity to their kitty. They do not want the complexity of the UX added on to their plate. Especially since the budget for this ‘social’ business app is low – a testing ground.

    Sigh. Let me get back to that discussion about why we might have to not include one of the crucial elements of the platform which the customer thinks is the most important. Why do I have a hunch that we might have to first focus more on what the user might be able to do on the system rather than the great computational algorithmic jugglery that the system can do behind the scenes?