There are countless reasons why we use technology in all aspects of our lives. We have a problem we need to solve, information to find, a task that needs to be completed, a friend to communicate with, content to consume, or any other number of other activities that are enabled or augmented by the tech we use.
More than ever our willingness to embrace technology throughout our day to day lives, combined with our increasing technology literacy and resourcefulness, is contributing to a major shift in the way work is conducted.
Years ago, we were told where we work, when we work, and what we use to get our work done. The technology was decided upon and implemented by upper management, with expectations, best practices and requirements being communicated down through the chain of command from the top.
However, things are currently much different and will continue to evolve over the next ten years. The millennial generation has shifted our work dynamics. Teams are becoming more fluid and distributed. Collaboration between teams and companies is expected. The freelance economy is booming and consumer and enterprise technology are rapidly becoming both more accessible and complex in the tasks it can handle.
This is leading to a massive shift in the software we adopt in the workplace.
Consumer technology is completely remaking the workplace, reimagining the ways we architect, adopt, implement and use technology.
Consumer applications like Twitter, Skype, Facebook, and countless others have been readily adopted by the workforce. Since we use these applications so consistently, we have become incredibly comfortable in the way they operate and what we are able to accomplish with them. At the same time, the feature sets of many consumer platforms have become increasingly robust and adaptable to the point where their workforce adoption seems unavoidable.
A recent IDC report states 15 percent of workers reported using consumer applications rather than the corporate sponsored tools to get work done. Bertrand Duperrin, Head of Employee and Client Experience at Emakina, describes this phenomenon in more detail when he explains “If, for a given use case, the enterprise solution is more complex than the consumer one, the employee will use the second. Even if prohibited.” It is inevitable that these applications will continue to enter the world of business and they are having a profound impact in a number of ways.
The B2B Stack Is Adapting
The enterprise software stack is being forced to evolve. Legacy vendors are competing with fast-growing and agile newcomers that are building their solutions from the ground up with a focus on mirroring the usability and familiarity of consumer applications. They're making sure their platforms are integrated, accessible, and more easily adoptable by the masses and are laser-focused on growing their user bases before attacking enterprise wide contracts.
The Way We Design Software Is Changing
The end user‘s experience has become paramount, where in the past the number of features and capabilities were king. It doesn’t matter if you are implementing a POS, CRM, CMS, or communication tool — how the tech compares to its closest consumer equivalence will affect how it is perceived and adopted.
Lower costs to design software, better understanding of workflows and technology, and better development tools have resulted in the more and more niche products designed to do one or two things, and do them well. With simplicity in mind these applications are more closely resembling their consumer focused counterparts. Think how software like Adobe Spark and Canva seem to more closely resemble Instagram than Photoshop.
How We Build Teams Is Different
When building a team, factoring in the use of devices and software outside of company-sponsored technology is now a necessity. How does this work with mobile? How can we integrate this with G Suite? How can we integrate across ecosystems?
As we build more agile teams, utilizing freelancers, consultants, and agencies this only becomes more prevalent. The shift in workforce demographics and the increase in remote workers and distributed teams is further increasing the number of opportunities for non-company sponsored software to enter the workplace.
On the flipside, the failure of enterprise software to maintain ease of use while building out their feature sets is creating market opportunities for newcomers. Smaller companies are more than willing to consider the adoption of consumer tools as there are already familiar and in use — and typically have much lower costs associated with their adoption.
These reasons and more are contributing to a number of shifts in the way we work and tools we use, and these shifts are dramatically altering market dynamics. Companies are more likely to adopt tools that are already being implemented by team members leading to a more common bottom-up sales approach.
The market is becoming more fragmented and competitive as consumer software vendors move into the enterprise market. The software itself is changing to reflect and compete with the new challengers — design is becoming more focused on user experience as opposed to feature sets. Complexity is being traded for ease of adoption.
As the consumerization of the workplace continues, enterprise tech is going to continue to emulate successful consumer apps out of necessity. While this happens consumer tools will continue to become more and more robust in their feature sets and functionality to cater to their increasing adoption by businesses.
The consumerization of the workplace is already here but is something that will continue to adapt and change as time progress. As our technology changes, it will be interesting to see how consumer and business technology converges and differentiates as well.
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