It never really went anywhere, but information technology did seem to fall from the public interest for a few years. As a communicator, getting people interested in enterprise technology was tough and the community of industry journalists focusing on it withered. It got some playful attention now and then, like when Larry Ellison made proclamations about how ridiculous cloud computing is while announcing another consolidation acquisition.
Now Oracle is acquiring SaaS companies, business intelligence is for anyone on any device, data centers are booming, everything’s becoming connected, and we’re having fun again!
What happened? It’s more than one thing, but the consumerization of IT is the fascinating trend for me because it has huge implications for B2B technology marketers.
Consumerization of IT refers to the general grassroots take-over of a lot of aspects of business technology by the masses of employees. Evidence: Gartner notes the role of business technology is rising, while formal IT budgets stay flat or fall. People are bringing their own devices to work (BYOD), finding their own business applications in the cloud for business intelligence or scheduling or business process management, and downloading mobile apps that give them virtual access to their desktops. They are developing new models for customer service and employee training using social media platforms like YouTube and creating shadow employee collaboration environments with enterprise social platforms like Yammer.
It’s either absolute chaos in the makings or it’s some sort of wisdom of the crowds at work. We don’t know that yet.
Two issues then for the tech marketers: Our target audiences are different, and the roles of IT leaders are changing.
First, we must recognize that increasingly we need to reach thousands of people at each company, not just a “buying team.” The masses of employees – especially mobile knowledge workers – are, at a minimum, powerful influencers. They may be the customers themselves, depending on the IT offering. Suddenly, B2B starts to look a lot more like B2C, doesn’t it? The brand matters, video matters, try before you buy matters. Impressive spec sheets and TLAs? Not so much.
Second, there’s more of an interest in the CIO not just as guiding big infrastructure decisions but as a “Chief Innovation Officer “ or “Chief Intelligence Officer.” Read Constellation Research CEO Ray Wang’s fascinating post on the Harvard Business Review blog from a year ago. There will always be highly technical IT decision-makers but more may be coming from line-of-business. They will use skills not to control but to create and enable – to make it easier for innovations to come from anywhere and for information to be used in new and unexpected ways.
I look forward to talking about this more in the year ahead!