Consumer Tech Shaping Enterprise Tech's Future

Ann All
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Where IT Will Be in Five Years

A recent survey suggests IT staff will need to combine mobile and cloud computing with business knowledge to create unique, compelling value for their organizations.

For some time now, consumer technology has been the tail wagging the enterprise dog. Apple is the poster child for this trend. It's a consumer technology company, yet its iPhone and iPad have inspired enterprise technology vendors to create products modeled after Apple's. Enterprise vendors are also taking inspiration from Apple to create app stores, where folks purchase software applications delivered via the cloud. While Apple may never sell as many products in the enterprise as companies like Microsoft and HP, it is clearly forging a path most enterprise tech vendors will ultimately follow.


Ray Wang, writing on his A Software Insider's Point of View blog, identifies the five pillars of consumer technology he believes will influence enterprise technology over the next decade.


It's nothing I haven't seen (or written about myself) before, but it's a nice master list in which Wang provides statistics and observations to illustrate how these five technologies are being used by consumers and, increasingly, by enterprises. He also names prominent vendors and offers his predictions of how enterprises may modify them to better suit their purposes. The pillars:

  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Cloud
  • Analytics and Game Theory
  • Unified Communications


Software developers seem to agree with Wang. According to a recent survey from the developerWorks division of IBM, 40 percent of respondents said mobile was the most in-demand area for software development for 2011. Fifty-five percent believe mobile application development will surpass application development on other platforms over the next five years.


Other in-demand areas of development are cloud computing/software-as-a-service (33 percent) and social media and business analytics (26 percent each). Nine out of 10 respondents to the survey, which reached more than 2,000 global IT pros, anticipate cloud computing will overtake on-premise computing by 2015 as the primary way organizations acquire IT.


Wang thinks some of the five technologies will see healthy enterprise adoption within six months, while others may take as long as 48 months to make a significant enterprise impact. If they are to make more than a dent in the enterprise, they'll have to become what Wang calls the five S's of enterprise-class acceptance:

  • Safe
  • Secure
  • Scalable
  • Sustainable
  • Simple


I believe most developers tend to put a lot of thought into security and scalability when creating enterprise solutions. I think they give the other areas somewhat less consideration, however.


As Wang describes it, "safe" encompasses not only integration, a traditional IT concern, but with ease but also, not jeopardizing how users perform their daily work and operations. "Sustainable" means solutions should meet requirements for flexibility and adaptability over long periods of time, say a decade. With this in mind, training programs, knowledge transfer mechanisms and support communities will become more important moving forward, says Wang. "Simple" is pretty self-explanatory, but it remains a challenge as many developers find it easy to be hard when designing technology.

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