A few weeks ago, I presented at Internet World in London on the death of the traditional enterprise. Here are my thoughts.

So, why the death of the enterprise? How will it die exactly? Of old age? With the decay of time? I believe it will die in battle. We are on an unavoidable collision course. The unstoppable force that is the business community is about to reach an immovable object – the IT department.

Many of you are undoubtedly familiar with the phrase: the consumerization of IT. It’s effectively what’s driving the explosion of Enterprise 2.0. and contributing to the death of the traditional enterprise model. In their personal lives, people have the ability to communicate, share information and run personal projects using a plethora of readily available and easy-to-use tools. They can buy an application on their smartphone with a single tap and expect the same power and simplicity to be available in the workplace.

Death of the traditional enterprise – IT and users on a collision course

Younger generations in the workplace are no longer happy with being dictated to by a central IT department. People want to manage their own work, organize their own content and use the tools that they feel are the best for the job. The business community now wants its requirements to be fulfilled as quickly as in the consumer world.

The best example of this trend is the explosion of mobile devices in the workplace. There are few business folk who do not use a personal iPhone or BlackBerry to check work emails or to communicate with colleagues. Think about the number of times you’ve done some work on your home computer. Using personal devices for work is so engrained in our lives that we don’t even think about it. However, your IT department does care.

The consumertization of IT is growing. A recent survey[1] conducted by IDC revealed that 95 per cent of workers have used technology that they have purchased for work. IDC also notes that there is a disconnect between employees and employers about how consumer technologies are used in the enterprise.

How big is this disconnect? IDC’s findings show that it’s very much a case of the left hand having no idea what the right hand is doing. According to the survey:

  • Workers use consumer devices at twice the rate employers reported
  • Workers are dissatisfied with the level of support IT provides for consumer technologies
  • More than half of workers believe that they can store personal data on the company network, overestimating support from the employers.

And let’s not forget the issue of social media. Although employers want to increase the use of social networking in business over the next year, few are integrating those technologies into existing enterprise applications. Many organizations (40 per cent) lack guidelines for social media use in the workplace.

Finally (and unsurprisingly), tech savvy workers want to work for tech-savvy employers, but only about one third of employers recognize this.

The business community wants to use apps that help them work efficiently, here and now. However, the IT department puts out a tender and then takes three months to decide on and implement a technology that it is comfortable with. The IT department often opts for traditional systems, because they are considered safe. No one gets fired for buying Microsoft.

I share Accenture’s sentiment[2]: IT needs to get with the program and understand that organizations are going to demand a much more transparent and agile method of IT delivery in the future. People want to get things done with a single tap rather than go through a three month tender process.

The issue of control is at the heart of this Enterprise 2.0 debate, but there’s still time to prevent a war between the workforce and central IT. And it’s IT that needs to balance the demands for flexibility, fast delivery and openness with security and control.

In a few years, the question of whether the cloud is a viable replacement for on-premise technologies will be redundant. Cloud computing, and Software as a Service in particular, has come of age. And IT’s concerns about security, control, adoption and ROI are starting to be addressed.

To avoid a complete annihilation of the IT department, IT has to give in to the cloud. It works. Converted IT managers cite simplified IT management processes, improved end-user experience, a reduction in IT performance challenges, reduced pressure on internal resources as key cloud benefits. And then there’s the question of money. With no set-up costs and lower variable costs, cloud-based software wins.

In my blog tomorrow, I’ll continue to cover the issues that I presented at Internet World, starting with: How secure is the cloud?


[1] http://www.unisys.com/unisys/ri/topic/researchtopicdetail.jsp?id=700004

[2] http://www.cfoworld.co.uk/news/technology/3274495/it-departments-still-not-convinced-by-the-cloud/

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