Business leaders have been grappling with consumerization of IT for over a decade now. The conversation has evolved over the years, but has followed Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation in all of its forms.
The idea is that businesses see new technologies first as a joke, then as a threat, and finally as obvious components of the workplace. Think of this in the context of the iPhone or Gmail. As these consumer devices and tools became integral parts of our personal lives, they started to bleed into the workplace.
First, they were security and productivity threats. Now, we can’t even imagine them not being in the picture.
But this is the same story you’ve heard a million times. Why rehash the consumerization of IT topic now?
As BYOD programs, mobile apps, and consumer-focused UX have become the norm in the workplace, something has been left behind—the consumer.
IT Consumerization Without a Customer Focus is Incomplete
The iPhone is often credited with kick starting the IT consumerization trend, but you can track it a little earlier to Google search.
In the mid-2000s, Salesforce saw that people were growing accustomed to Google’s UI. By blending traditional CRM elements with an interface that mimicked Google search, Salesforce was able to build a consumer-friendly piece of enterprise software. And as Facebook became the universal platform, Salesforce adapted again and conformed to the consumer norm.
But it’s important to understand the motives for the consumerization of enterprise software. It’s odd to look back at old white papers discussing “new” technologies like mobile apps, but they often note the benefits of consumerized IT as lowering business costs and improving employee productivity.
Everything about the consumerization of IT up to this point has focused inward. Even when iPhones and consumer apps felt like threats, businesses bent and worked to integrate them in an effort to make employees as comfortable as possible. And when employees are more productive, presumably they’re better-suited to satisfy customers.
However, companies in many industries still aren’t consumerizing their consumer-facing technology. Take the financial services industry, for example. There’s a reason why banks are facing such difficult times with digital transformation—the way they interact with customers is becoming increasingly outdated.
While employees within a financial institution might use Evernote, Slack, and carry iPhones, their customers still have to deal with frustrating IVR systems, email black holes and disjointed customer service channels.
If companies are actually going to reap the benefits of consumerized IT, they can’t just focus internally—they have to interact with consumers in the most seamless way possible.
Messaging Closes the IT Consumerization Gap with Customers
There’s no longer a gap between what employees want and what consumers want. They’re one and the same. Just as employees want to use technology from their personal lives in the workplace, business-to-customer interfaces and experiences should match consumer expectations.
This means tapping into messaging as the native UX for mobile. Businesses have focused so heavily on consumerizing workplace technology and there’s no reason why B2C interfaces can’t follow suit.
Too often consumers are forced to deal with clunky interfaces to interact with business services—ordering room service at a hotel, changing a flight before a big trip, applying for a loan, and more. Why shouldn’t these tasks be as easy (and as seamless) as sending GIFs to your friends in something like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger?
Layer customers like Staples, Trunk Club by Nordstrom and Jobr by Monster.com are focusing on consumerization where it really counts – with consumers.
If you want to learn more about implementing messaging, the B2C UX that your customers now expect, contact us today for a free demo of the Layer customer conversation platform.