There are many traditional software and enterprise computing vendors currently trying to make the journey into the cloud and one of the most popular things the industry likes to talk about is the post-pc era. There is no doubt that prosumer devices like the iPad and operating systems like Android are having a profound effect on the way people work, but sometimes I think we can be in danger of putting the cart before the horse so to speak.
Like many, I’m sure the post-pc era is on its way and in fact there is evidence of it as organizations move to shift focus and concentrate of the increasingly popular mobile workforce that has been driven by the prosumer. With that said however, I do believe that we are still a significant period of time away from casting the last tower into the dumpster and just like the mainframe, I suspect the traditional desktop will outlive quite a few of our professional lives.
When I look at enterprise computing, I actually believe there are 3 distinct phases, the enterprise PC era that we all know and love, the post-pc era that we all love to talk about, but then this middle transition period known as “the consumerization of IT,” and it is this period that will change organizations significantly.
Modern Enterprise Computing and Cloud Services
Modern enterprise computing (the use of iPads, tablets, etc) would not have been anywhere near as successful if it wasn’t for cloud services and the abundance of remote services available. From an enterprise perspective, the poster-child examples include Salesforce, Box and Workday and as a consumer there is Facebook, LinkedIn and hundreds of other services to help people do different things. As more and more enterprise organizations introduce service-based software like Microsoft Office365 and Citrix Podio, the movement towards a mobile workforce continues to strengthen.
While a large percentage of enterprise professionals will continue to work with traditional computing platforms for a long period of time, this new mobile workforce falls into a category I like to term the prosumer. The prosumer is an enterprise worker who increasingly finds themselves working in a consumer fashion. This doesn’t mean that they choose to use OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office but instead, they recognize that for tasks like synchronizing data, they are often better off with a consumer based solution.
It is the prosumer that will ultimately put the most pressure on IT as they have both the knowledge and means to work around corporate red tape when it inhibits their need for productivity. If IT wishes to maintain control of their environments, they will have to adapt and move towards an era of IT consumerization. Cloud services will play a significant role in this, because in many ways it facilitates the functionality required to realize user flexibility and freedom.