In order to achieve true consumerisation of the enterprise, we need a layer or a platform that connects across enterprises while enabling app-building on top of it
Sadiq is an entrepreneur and inventor with four US patents. He currently manages strategy at Qwikcilver Solutions (funded by Accel, Helion and Amazon). He loves to write about product and business strategies.
The term ‘consumerisation of IT’ is used to describe the cycle of information technology emerging in the consumer market, then spreading to business and government organisations. This is largely because employees are using popular consumer market technologies and devices at home and then introducing them in the workplace.
There have been various indications of a move towards this trend in the industry, like using your personal device (mainly iPhones in the US) for official emails, using cloud for flexible infrastructure (mainly driven by AWS) and using hosted email infrastructure (mainly driven by Gmail) for work.
So, what’s missing?
Companies building for the workplace do not have a single layer or platform across enterprises that would enable building applications on top of them. The last successful company in this space was Salesforce though you couldn’t exactly categorise it as being really successful for integrating consumer technologies into the enterprise. All it did was take enterprise apps and make them SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) and web-enabled.
Hence, there was always the lack of a layer which connected all the organisations in a way that apps could be build on top of it. This layer would lead to true consumerisation of the enterprise.
That position could have been taken by email, which again was the common thread across enterprises, but there was no single company or a group driving it across the industry with a single-minded focus. Email also ended up being a tool and not the layer on which you could build apps. And over a period of time emails have also become the bane of the organisation by being productivity hogs — the very thing they planned to improve.
The sole winner
The way I see it, only one trend has emerged as a proxy for the enterprise and that is messaging or workplace communication. Messaging is fresh, it’s basic and it’s universal.
Slack is the leader in workplace messaging for now. It has also been positioning its service as a connectivity tool integrating all the existing enterprise apps, as well as opening up APIs (application platform interface) for developers to build interesting use cases on top of it. It has also been growing in terms of product offerings, which in turn promises developers a wider audience that’s easy to monetise. Another huge thing going for it is its valuation and the focus of VCs on enterprise apps.
As it stands today, this might be the dawn of consumer-led technologies to creep into enterprises in a big way and who knows, they might spawn a bunch of use cases which has not yet been imagined in today’s consumer world.
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