Microsoft connects business, consumer markets at 2011 Worldwide Partner Conference
I’ve seen some crazy acronyms and lingo in the IT world, and though my mom’s a former English teacher, some words have even stopped me. Consumerization is one of them. In fact, as I type this, Microsoft Word is telling me that consumerization is not a word.
Ironic, as consumerization was the main topic of conversation at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), which brought more than 15,000 Microsoft partner attendees to Los Angeles a few weeks ago.
Most of the time, the media and analysts talk about the consumerization of IT from the perspective that consumer technology is influencing how business technology works. But what I found interesting is that Microsoft really took it to another level – consumer hardware is driving business software.
Walking the expo floor at WPC, it was difficult to walk 50 feet without someone demoing the power of a tablet device or Windows 7 Phone. But more than the device itself, the demos were really showing how that line of personal and professional use is getting blurred more and more. Users moved smoothly from their Xbox Live session playing SuperMonkeyBall, to a Microsoft Lync video chat, to editing a Microsoft Word document. Consumerization of IT is very real, and it’s ubiquitous devices that are driving it.
In the ECM software world, our customers are proving that this consumer hardware to access business software is more than a trend. The nuances vary by industry, but the common thread is that they need accessibility to critical business content regardless of platform – phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, virtual sessions, in the cloud or otherwise. And, in today’s growing world of remote employees, frequent business travel, and disparate offices around the globe, this kind of activity has to be enabled across not one device, like only a BlackBerry, but rather on all devices, enabling those users the ability to review and approve content regardless of which brand of device they prefer.
The scenarios where we’re seeing this applied most frequently so far are field claims adjusters in insurance, physicians in the hospital and a traveling executive needing to approve a large invoice. But, there are many other mobility use cases across every other vertical market.
Through my many years in IT, I’ve closely followed Microsoft’s perspective on the ebb and flow of the market. With the consumerization of IT, I think it’s a clear opportunity for Microsoft to redefine itself as not just a B-to-B software company, but really a technology provider that gets what users value – accessibility, ease of use and consistency across software and hardware.
This perspective also holds lessons for us as ECM providers, ones that I know Hyland is already incorporated into its product. While I don’t think ECM software will ever be used to manage my grocery receipts, no ECM solution should neglect how individuals use technology as consumers. Otherwise, organizations are getting enterprise software that won’t be used to its max potential – or worse, not used at all.