CIOs seem to fall into two categories—those who are willing to live on the bleeding edge of new technology and those who work to keep the lights on. While playing safe and lagging behind with innovative technology solutions may have been acceptable in the past, CIOs can no longer afford to miss out on new tech.

Years ago, resisting consumerism might not have had too much of a negative impact on a business. Now, consumerism is the gateway drug for innovative technology solutions in the enterprise—and CIOs face increasing pressure to adapt faster.

A Brief History of the Consumerism of technology

Consumerism of IT is nothing new. We can look back as far as the 1980s and see where consumer technology started to influence enterprises. However, the main trend to recognize is that the time it takes new consumer technology to reach the workplace has gotten shorter and shorter over time:

  • Consumerism of Desktop Computing in the 1980s: The Apple II Plus really started the age of consumerism, giving people access to desktop computing outside of the workplace in the early 1980s. Before that, companies purchased computers almost exclusively from IBM. And when Microsoft created DOS for Apple, the stage was set for personal computing to reach the workplace. Over the next 5 or 6 years, people started bringing their home computers to the office to take advantage of better features - and the advent of the spreadsheet only accelerated this move.
  • Consumerism of Internet and Mobile in the 1990s: The internet started in academia, moved to consumers, and only reached the enterprise when businesses saw the medium had value for commerce. Similarly, mobile phones allowed consumers to send text messages in the 1990s, but people had to separate mobile phones and business phones on business cards. In a few years, business cards moved from incorporating separate business and mobile phones numbers for contacting employees to only including mobile numbers as the primary form of contact for many people.
  • Consumerism of Mobile Computing Post-iPhone: The iPhone marked a turning point in the acceleration of IT consumerism. Smartphones proved so much more powerful than work phones that they sparked the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) era. Implementing BYOD programs was almost like an allergic reaction from IT departments as enterprises tried to maintain control. Despite efforts to resist, consumerism once again invaded IT.

When you see how the consumerism of technology has sped up over the last few decades, you can start to think about trend is continuing today. The “bring your own software” movement is the next wave as SaaS platforms become increasingly accessible to anyone in an organization.

The Shadow IT challenges that the SaaS shift has created are indicative of a CIO’s real problem—overblown bureaucracy is causing slow transformation that can become crushing to even the most-established companies.

Free eBook: Making Your Mark on the Top Line: A CIO's Primer

Looking Ahead to Stay Ahead of Innovative Technology Solutions

Staying on the bleeding edge of technology is almost a necessity for CIOs today. You might not want to be the first adopter of a new innovative technology solution—but you definitely don’t want to be the fifth in your market. Apple wasn’t the first to create a screen-based mobile phone, but they perfected the idea and won the market because of it.

In the same way, you have to be ready to look ahead at where consumerism will strike next. A couple of current examples include:

  • Gamification: Innovative technology solutions are increasingly focused on user engagement. Gamification in enterprise technology is growing out of the consumer space and manifesting in sales platforms that are treated like fantasy sports and task managers that reward users for checking off their assignments.
  • Social Media: Social is unique in that it grew entirely on the consumer side with MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. Businesses have embraced social for marketing, but it took a few years. However, chatbots are one of the next big innovative technology solutions and social platforms like Facebook are the premier channels for enterprises to take advantage of the new opportunities for commerce, customer service and more.

The rise of chatbots offer a preview of where consumerism of technology is heading—acceleration to the point that we can’t even tell if the technology is starting on the consumer side or the business side.

A Critical Turning Point for Today’s CIOs

“A CIO needs to be an empathetic translator because many times, consumerism is driving [technology] changes. What IT leaders think about is that there is a real change over there (consumers) that doesn’t affect me (business). But all technology is truly interconnected.”

This is a statement from our latest white paper on impacting an organization with innovative technology solutions. It may seem like an overstatement, but CIOs can no longer afford to lag too far behind consumerism.

If you liked this article, listen to guests Scott Harper, Dialexa’s co-founder and CEO, and Chris Garrick, Sr Partner here at Dialexa, on Custom Made, where we discuss how to drive innovation within an enterprise organization:

Listen to all episodes of Custom Made for insights and perspectives from industry disruptors and technology leaders.

Don’t be afraid to live on the bleeding edge of technology—it’s where you can find true differentiation. However, succeeding on the bleeding edge is a tall task for many CIOs. If you want to learn how Dialexa can help you walk the line of tomorrow’s innovative technology solutions, download our free white paper, Making Your Mark on the Top Line: A CIOs Primer.

Free eBook: Making Your Mark on the Top Line: A CIO's Primer

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