Has the blurred line between consumer and enterprise technology finally disappeared?

The conventional notion of what enterprise IT should be is changing. The once dominant and long standing enterprise technology providers are finding themselves competing or partnering with younger, more consumer-friendly brands as a way to keep up with user demand and behaviour – from the employee right up to the senior level executives.

One of the ‘considered’ consumer brands voyaging into the enterprise is Apple – who have been running for almost a year now its solution, AppleCare for Enterprise, which provides business customers with 24/7 phone support, priority repairs, a dedicated account manager and on-call technical experts to keep devices running seamlessly.

Apple also partnered with IBM as a provider for this service which further highlights their commitment to businesses.

This move is another example of how today’s office environment has become a bundle of disparate firms and products, where employees are opting for the devices they are most comfortable with to conduct their business.

> See also: Consumerising business applications: lessons learned from Amazon and Google

Whether the lines between business and leisure devices have become less defined, the current situation has certainly created a climate by which the best of both worlds can come together to form a hybrid model that will work for everyone.

Open season for technology

Consumers haven’t always had a say in the technology used in enterprise until the arrival of concepts such as BYOD and CYOD, where employees impacted the choice of technology for the first time.

The growing familiarity of many consumers with a range of devices means that they are increasingly empowered to make recommendations to IT on what they find easy and quick to use.

These recommendations, which are becoming a key feature, are born from the equipment they are comfortable using in their day to day lives, and so inevitably consumer technology firms are increasingly being recommended and sought after by consumers in the workplace.

In fact, the pressure for BYOD often came from the boardroom when CEOs began bringing in their shiny new devices and challenging the CIO to find a way to make their tech interact with the company’s business IT systems and apps.

What the CEO wants, the CEO gets and who would say no to the CEO! Once the device was tried and tested, the CEO would demand the same access for his employees to help reduce costs and increase productivity.

Everything tastes better at home

Another prevalent reason for the growing popularity of consumer technology in enterprise has come from the employees’ expectations of how they use their smart devices at home and how they wish to bring that ease of use into the workplace.

Consumer firms have been very effective at providing regular updates, appealing aesthetics, seamless functionality and efficient customer service.

These traits are born from existing in an ultra-competitive environment that is always open to competitors launching rival services. Companies such as Google and Apple are able to use their experience in competing in these environments to great effect in the enterprise, showing that although they may be new to this sector, they are more than adept at knowing how to keep people – in this case employees – happy. 

One request, two request, three request, four: keeping pace is a challenge

In the past, requests from employees were easier to facilitate as they often came from a specific department such as the creative design team who wished to use Mac for graphic design. The department may have been anything from a handful of employees to dozens of teams.

Now wide-scale popularity has meant Apple has become the device of choice for many, with research showing that 98% of companies currently support iOS, and employees across all departments are calling for the chance to use Mac, iPad and iPhone to work efficiently.

Dealing with all these requests has required the enterprise to find a way to implement a more robust and scalable device management scheme to support a variety of needs, from patching of common software such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite, to software restrictions that ensure all new software can be tested before being deployed. It has also placed more attention on how device and application roll out can be made scalable to follow the business as it grows.

Has pace become a challenge?

Enterprise IT could be viewed as more predictable owing to the longstanding licensing and contracts deals and difficulties in replacing whole infrastructures due to vendor lock-ins, but the introduction of disruptive technology has meant that adoption can take place more quickly via a plug and play approach.

> See also: Does your organisation need a director of simplification?

Businesses no longer have time to procrastinate over software upgrades or the devices coming in and must now look to management systems that can seamlessly integrate these changes and devices at the click of a button. This is essential since some consumer technology develops applications and upgrade every six months.

To ease the pressure of keeping pace, intelligent device management software solutions can be implemented that enables employees to be more self-sufficient in installing upgrades and applications onto their devices, whilst remaining under the policies of the company.

Wider scale rollouts at the click of button, also help IT teams to deploy software quickly – this is essential in order to respond as necessary to increasing threats and regulations that are emerging from privacy and protection concerns.

A future for all

The enterprise space is changing every day and with it are the changing perceptions of technology companies. Firms that were once considered consumer are becoming as relevant inside the company walls as outside of them.

> See also: The value of consumerisation: Gartner outlines three ways to get the most out of 'digital employees'

These firms are using their immense popularity with employees to help shape the culture of IT and pave the way for a more inclusive, user friendly, flexible infrastructure. As a result, IT is facing a new dawn of expectation in being able to feed demand and manage this new culture.

Sourced from Tad Johnson, CMO, JAMF Software

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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