SMBs Can Get Productivity Boost from Consumer Tech

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I've blogged before about how SMBs appear to be more inclined than their larger counterparts to sanction the use of consumer technologies at work.


This may be because SMBs tend to have smaller and less bureaucratic IT departments than those found in larger enterprises. Some of my earlier blogs have noted that IT personnel often resist putting more control into end users' hands.


Forrester Research analyst Bobby Cameron addressed this topic in a recent interview with IT Business Edge, noting that while consumer tech can potentially introduce business risks, IT nonetheless needs to "get out of the command-and-control culture." Some of his specific suggestions:

... IT has to start working with the business to enable them to be successful at these kinds of (business technology) things where they're taking over roles. So what does that look like? Helping them identify and hire skills or maybe move skills specifically out of IT for project management, business analysts. Building the integration technologies to make it easy for that to occur and creating very high priority for any kind of requests that occur from the business for these type of activities, so that IT's very responsive to this particular class of need. And it should be a very thin layer on top of the overall technology stack, so it should be rapid to deploy once IT gets started.

Echoing Cameron's views, recent Yankee Group research suggests that bigger companies might do well to emulate their SMB peers. Adopting consumer technologies can increase productivity up to 40 percent for SMBs, according to a report titled "Unleash the Hidden Power of Your SMB."


According to Yankee Group, the most potentially powerful drivers of productivity include blogs, wikis, smartphones, wireless-enabled laptops, instant messaging and online travel services. Some of these same tools were mentioned by AMI-Research in a report about SMBs' adoption of Web 2.0 technologies, published last March. Of course, some observers question their value to SMBs. For a contrarian view, see my recent blog, Can SMBs Benefit from Blogging?


Yankee Group did find that some consumer tech tools actually decreased SMB productivity, most notably voice-only cellular phones, Second Life, Slingbox and YouTube.