Have we over-consumerised IT?

One of the phenomenons of the modern technology industry is the ‘consumerisation of IT’, but have we taken that trend too far?

I’ve spent today at the opening of the 2013 Dreamforce conference in San Francisco talking to various people about where the IT industry is going.

The dominant thing at this year’s conference is the “internet of things” or, as Salesforce are marketing it, “the internet of customers.”

What’s notable in this view is the marketing and consumer centric view of the IT world, something not surprising given Salesforce’s roots as a sales and marketing service, despite last year showing off the social media connected jet engine at last year’s conference.

Salesforce aren’t alone in this view, most conversations about the tech industry revolve around marketing and advertising. Last week’s Telstra’s Digital Summit was notable for focusing almost exclusively on brands and social media while missing the point that digital business is far more than just adopting online marketing channels.

For most industries, the marketing and direct consumer connection is only a small part of how technology, not least the internet of machines, is transforming business with manufacturing and supply chain management two areas that are being totally changed with high stakes and big money involved.

Cracking the enterprise market is hard, which is why most startup tech businesses focus on the customer market and the relatively easy, albeit cash poor, advertising and premium revenue streams.

While the focus is often on the consumer and mass-market side of the web and internet of machines, the real money, and change is in the business sector. This is exactly how most of today’s tech giants — Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce to name a few — came to be where they are today.

There’s no doubt the consumerisation of IT was a real phenomenon, but it may be that it’s currently being overplayed. We need to think beyond marketing when considering how technology is changing our businesses.

About the author

Paul Wallbank is the founding editor of Networked Globe and has nearly twenty years experience of working in and reporting on computers, the internet and the future of our connected society.