I managed to do a bit of reading on some recent long flights trying to catch up with a few months of papers which had attracted my interest. A lot of it would fuel my thoughts for what the trends will be in 2015 but I figure that technology does not run in annual cycles so why should our predictions.
One of the things which jumped out was in a report from Forrester where they stated 'We are in the age of the customer...'. I'm not going to completely disagree with this statement but am going to change it slightly, We are in the age of the Consumer. I'm not suggesting that Customers are not increasing in importance and their influence but what I am saying is that Consumers, specifically of IT, are the ones who call the shots and they do so from many different angles:
- Customers who demand multiple channels in how they interact with organisations, not just to buy products but also to research, service products and and engage with organisations
- Employees who more and more are demanding that the tools they use within the enteprise reflect the same level of usability as those they use in their personal life
- Partners who are looking to break down the artifical 'walls' between companies in order to work together more efficiently
All of these people will in one way or another consume IT services which organisations may provide and the way they want to consume them is evolving quicker than organisations can deal with. If I was to assess where organisations are in dealing with each of these then I would suggest that the Customer experience is one which is currently receiving the most attention and focus from CIO's, CTO's and the CDO (not that I advocate the term). The other two are the areas which are not quite being ignored but they are not receiving the same amount of focus as the B2C route.
Helping our employees and partners to better leverage IT solutions can have a real positive on the performance of the business not just in efficiencies but also in employee and partner satisfaction, potentially leading to a culture change in an organisation where information sharing and new thinking is more the norm than the exception.
In IT we will become less and less focussed on implementing solutions for these consumers but more about helping them to use the solutions which they can. For ECM take Box as an example. Recent announcements from Boxworks highlight the growing functional depth of this product. However as it stands at the moment one of the great benefits of the product is its usability. The app is there and people can use it easily, as they increase their functional capabilities the onus will be on helping people to use this type of product rather than creating new solutions based on it. Yes there will still be a need to do some integration and configuration but primarily the help organisations will need is more advisory. Interesting times ahead.