The Global Consumerization of Information Technology


(B) I kindly disagree with savvy investor Jim Cramer who likes to repeat, over and over, that the Mobile Internet Tsunami is the biggest trend in Information Technology. I would rather consider that the Mobile Internet Tsunami is a big wave from a bigger Tsunami: the Global Consumerization of Information Technology. That trend has its roots in both Moore’s law and the openness of the Internet. From mainframes to minicomputers, from minicomputers to client/servers, from client/servers to the Internet, and finally from the Internet to our new age of mobility, technology has always offered more computing and communication power in a smaller form factor, and at a lower cost. And with the Internet, technology has moved from being critical to business productivity to be critical to how we all live. There probably has never been a better proof of the consumerization of Information Technology that the recent political events in beautiful North Africa, in particular in Egypt and in Tunisia,  where a Facebook page such as “We are all Khaled Said”, can be instrumental to start a revolt, which can turn out to become a revolution, that spread across multiple countries.

The consumerization of information technology is already changing in many ways how technology companies must design and market new products, in particular:

User experience is the “only” feature of a technology product

When consumers are using technology products in their daily lives, how well technology products provide them with the experience that they are looking for is key to product success.

Kids are the first adopters of new technologies

The best focus group in technology are kids and for two reasons. First, kids have no technology background so they are the fastest group to adopt new technology. Second, kids have little money, so they will always figure out to push the limit of any given technology.

New technologies are moving from the home to businesses

New technologies are first embraced by consumers and brought by consumers into their work. The technologies that we like outside work are the ones that we want to use in our work.

Everything starts with your BlackBerry

With the latest generation of smartphones that we are carrying 24 x 7 with us, technology becomes entrenched to the most intimate moments of our personal lives.

Everything needs the cloud

We get our music from iTunes, we connect with friends through Facebook, we find our directions through Google Maps… As consumers rely more on the Internet to live, cloud services are becoming the new architecture for any new Internet services.

Consumers need a store

To sell consumer products from phones and pianos to clothes and fashion, you need a store where consumers can ask questions and get the devices, they love, repaired. Consumers do not want to torture themselves all day, all night to make technology works. They just want to go to the store, and get the help that they need.

Branding is key to marketing new technologies

Technology companies have over time learned from fashion, food, entertainment and car industries on how to create a brand. As many technologies are being used by consumers, brands become very critical to technology companies to focus on their target segments.

The most valued technology company is a consumer technology company

In 2010, Apple passed Microsoft as the highest market capitalization technology company by Wall Street. As the consumerization of information technology grows, most of the growth of the NASDAQ will likely come in the future from consumer-based technology companies. Facebook will certainly not be the last one.

Privacy is the major barrier to technology consumerization

I strongly believe that consumer technology companies are not taking consumer privacy as seriously as they should be. Monetizing to the extreme what consumers search or like is a double-edged sword that could quickly lead a technology consumer company to market failure.

Information technology is now about connecting everyone and everything for everyday life and work. And, it is a real-time global phenomenon. The consumerization of information technology is here to stay for a long time. No country can live any longer in silos. And no one can close the Internet.

Note: The picture above is an Egyptian mural painting that I own.

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Categories: Computer Systems