The enterprisation of life

The hottest topic in IT management right now is consumerisation. There's no question that it's a genuine phenomenon. The consumer market has set the pace of innovation in both devices and web-based services, and it's no surprise that people want to use that innovation to improve their working lives.

However, I do think that the IT industry's framing of the phenomenon reflects its viewpoint – sitting inside the IT department, looking out. I propose that the consumerisation of IT is just one facet of the current technological era, and that it would be equally valid to speak of 'the enterprisation of life'.

Managing information in the form of electronic data has been a huge part of what businesses do for decades. Every process, from recruiting new employees and customers to launching new products and acquiring rival companies, has a data management component.

The personal computer revolution introduced electronic data into home life. At first, we used PCs to manage our correspondence and domestic accounts. More recently, data management has permeated everything from managing one's music collection to organising one's social life.

For a tangible example of the enterprisation of life, look at the online financial management services that banks now offer their current accounts holders, and their resemblance to simple, accessible business intelligence systems.

The flipside of IT consumerisation, which means employees want to use their personal devices and software that resembles the consumer web, is that customer engagement is becoming increasingly data-rich. This is one of the reasons why the next few years will see marketing departments begin to match IT shops in terms of technology spending.

Furthermore, these data-rich engagements will not be with passive data subjects, but with savvy consumers who care whether the data you hold on them is accurate, who care where it is kept, and who care exactly how much your organisation knows about them. As the European Commission made clear in January 2012, these consumers have the winds of regulatory change on their side.

The consumerisation of IT has sometimes been cast as a threat to the IT department, as it places more control in the hands of the employee. But by the same token, 'the enterprisation of life' means that the skills and experience of IT professionals are not only useful in the context of business filing, but now apply to almost every facet of human society.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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