Access to the Web is ubiquitously available in developed countries, and that constant connectivity has a profound effect on the applications and devices people use to access information between their homes and their offices. Now that wireless data networks bridge the connectivity divide that existed between the home and office, consumers use devices and applications to also bridge that chasm.
For example, consumers don't set aside their personal mobile device upon entering their corporate office; they are not satisfied with using one device for workpurposes and another for personal usage. So the result is a blending of work and personal activities across a single device or application, which the Yankee Group Anywhere Enterprise - Large: 2007 U.S. Mobile Professional Blended Lifestyle Surveyconfirms. Nearly 25 percent of the calls made from mobile phones that are in a corporate name, and paid directly by the company, are personal and not business calls. The inverse is true, too. Approximately 50 percent of calls made from mobile plans paid for by employeesare business calls.
This trend is furthered by the ease with which consumers can adopt "cool" applications and devices. They can sign up for AOL Instant Messenger or Skype once and access the application on their personal PC, corporate laptop and mobile device. Smartphones such as the BlackBerry, once reserved for high-powered corporate users at price points upward of $350, are now widely available for $99, and even less for resourceful buyers. T-Mobile's offer for a $99 BlackBerry 7100t in 2005 inaugurated a flurry of devices geared toward prosumers - individuals who purchase devices, applications and services through consumer channels but use them for business purposes.
Introducing new consumer technologies into the workplace increases I.T. complexity and makes I.T.'s job more difficult. The most prevalent consumer technologies currently adopted in the workplace are rather simple services that pose low technology risks to the corporate host (e.g., text messaging, consumer email). As agile companies such as Google, Skype and Second Life innovate, more employees will introduce more services that increasingly expose the corporation to greater integration and security threats.
Employees feel empowered to introduce consumer services into the workplace, and they are making liberal use of the opportunity (see Exhibit 1). Eightysix percent of respondents to the Yankee Group Anywhere Enterprise - Large: 2007 U.S. Mobile Professional Blended Lifestyle Survey of corporate end users (not I.T. executives) already use at least one consumer technology in the workplace. Employees look to a new breed of companies, primarily consumer technology companies (e.g., Google, MySpace, Skype), for innovation and productivityenhancing services (see Exhibit 2). Traditional corporate giants - AT&T, IBM and Microsoft - have fallen off the innovation curve.
The consumerization trend - the introduction of consumer applications or devices into the workplace by rogueemployees to improve productivity or better manage their personal and professional workloads - is in its infancy. Services such as Skype (launched in 2003) are relatively new to the market and just now infiltrating the business environment. Twenty-percent of respondents to the Yankee Group Anywhere Enterprise - Large: 2007 U.S. Mobile Professional Blended Lifestyle Survey use Skype for business purposes, but 40 percent of respondents use more mature technologies such as consumer IM, and 50 percent use consumer email applications for business purposes.
Smart phones offered at price points the average consumers can afford, such as the $99 Motorola Q, are also new to the market. Consumers are using affordable devices such as the Q and the Nokia E62 for much more than simply phones and calendars. Nokia has an increasing portfolio of widgets that users can download at no cost. The lightweight applications help Nokia achieve its goal of transforming mobility to a point where users access rich Internet applications from anywhere, at anytime using their personal devices. The widgets, which can be easily moved from the handset to the PC, represent another entry point into the technology ecosystem that I.T. will struggle to control. Adoption of these consumer applications in the enterprise must strike fear in the heart of I.T.managers determined to control everyaspect of the technology environment.