“Consumerization” – What is new with that?

This is just the normal process, we should stop being surprised with it

The personal computer in the early 1980’s, email and browsers in the early 1990’s, Linux in the mid 1990’s, SMS and Social Technologies in early 2000’s. All technologies that would “never” be adopted by the enterprise. The alleged reason? “Security”

All those technologies eventually found their way into business and the enterprise.

The real reason the enterprise doesn’t adopt technology? Control. It is natural to try to keep control when you think it is not about people, it is about processes. See, I am not against control. In one of my earlier lives, I developed a Change and Configuration management system for enterprise data centers.

But at some point, people will need to do work and they will use tools that help them to get work done. If the enterprise doesn’t offer those tools, they will bring in the tools they are already using in their personal lives. Skype accounts of 2010 are the AOL email accounts of 1990.

Last night I had a discussion on that with my friend Prem Kumar (@prem_k). We were talking about Skype. I said Skype was been adopted from the bottom-up and that one day we would wake up and realize that everybody is using it (instead of Webex, GoToMeeting, telephone, MS Communicator, etc, etc).

At work, I use Skype all the time. To chat, to talk, to share my desktop. No need to set anything in advance, just connect ad hoc. My brother (a lawyer) uses Skype. My sister-in-law uses Skype. The mother of my sister-in-law, who lives in the deep countryside of Brazil and doesn’t use ATM machines, uses Skype.

Prem and I have a bet. Dinner. My side of the bet is that Skype becomes the quasi-standard real-time communication tool in 3 years.

This is not the first time I make bets like that. I always lose, because the enterprise is slow and change always take longer and eventually Microsoft will create a Skype-client “for the enterprise”.

Yes, IT departments will block Skype the same way the did with email in 1990 and with Twitter in 2010. But my bet is that when customers start demanding Skype communication, sales will have no choice but comply.

But don’t be surprised when you wake up one day sometime in the future and everyone is using Skype. Because you already are and everyone will.

One thought on ““Consumerization” – What is new with that?

  1. Marcio,
    I have to agree that Enterprise = Control. Sometimes (many times?) the tail wags the dog. Enterprise IT departments are forced to say “it’s pervasive, so we better get a handle on it.” We see that in mobile communication. RIM is the preferred mobile communications platform for enterprise, but when all you C-level execs and senior management are running around with iPhones, you have to deal with it.

    Skype has that certain something that makes it easily adopted by individuals. The right combination of communication tools. I use it to video chat with my niece and nephew on the left coast. We tried AIM and Yahoo, but Skype just worked best. Now it’s my preferred method of communication.

    I’ll take some of that action on your side of the bet! 🙂


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