Tag Archives: salesforce.com

Consumerization and what IT departments still don’t understand

The consumerization discussion in companies always amazes me.

You know, the ‘bring your own device’, ‘iPad’, ’email on Android’ thing …

It is a huge change in the workplace, but so many companies still don’t understand real drivers behind this.

There is a reason that Jobs and Apple did not allow corporate IT departments to easily manage, control and restrict Apple devices .. because Steve Jobs understood that it DESTROYS the usability and performance – not just of the device, but of the user … or to give them their correct name, person (human being is OK too).

The main driver behind consumerization is not people wanting to own your own kit, it is a damning indictment of the failure of corporate IT to understand and enable people to get the job done. People want to use their own technology because they despise everything that corporate technology stands for and consistently the experience that is consistently delivers:

… unusable, slow booting, heavy, ugly (but cheap) laptops with a battery life that can just about survive one meeting, but not an international flight or even a working day.
… unintuitive, cumbersome, bloated, slow software that takes forever to download, requires you suspend common sense in using with the graphical aesthetic that a 4 year old wielding a packet of crayons would be ashamed of
… security policies that in the name of corporate compliance add additional steps that make the most simple of tasks even slower, more painful and more complex than finishing an advanced calculus paper whilst after a bottle of Grey Goose

And corporate IT people think it is about the device.


It is about YOU and what you do.

[Note that I said cheap laptops. The irony of course is that whilst IT departments often buy most of the people poor laptops, the total cost of ownership of these, and the cost of managing them is rediculously high. Not that this would bother IT departments as they buy whatever they want and don’t use the same rubbish that they provide you with. They also get to setup their machines as workable and reasonably usuable. Something that they deny to you].

Years ago, people had no choice. They had to use what they were given, they couldn’t afford the best devices and didn’t always appreciate what was possible.

But now they do, and corporate IT should be worried. Very, very worried. Today, people are working outside the system, focusing on getting the job done. Doing what they need to do to perform at work, keep their job and continue to keep the payslips coming. They are connecting these devices because they need to get to the data and information they need. And this is where most discussion of consumerization stops.

The discussion focuses on how we can make the devices secure, enforce encryption, remote wipe, add lots of compliance monitoring …



The correct way to look at this is very different.

Instead of thinking about the solution … start with the cause.

‘Our users, the people we exist to serve are voting with their wallets to NOT use what we provide. What we do isn’t working. Yes, we can show that we are meeting security commitments, but the services and technology that we provide is that BAD that people are choosing to buy their own devices, pay for their own services in order to do what they need to do to get their work done. In some cases, they know they may risk disciplinary action, but they still do it. We must be really failing people’.

You are.

Once you appreciate this, you can start to understand and envision the solution.

It starts with a mindset change of thinking: ‘what can we do to help people?’

– How can we provide great technology?

– How can we protect performance rather than killing it?

– How can we empower people?

– Yes, we have corporate responsibilities for security, but how are these implemented so as to minimise the impact?

Perhaps there is a simpler summary … ‘how can we get out of the way?’

Those that understand this shift will see consumerisation as an opportunity to redefine both the role and the relationship of internal IT departments. They will become teams that empower people, provide help to get things done. Become a department of ‘yes, here is how you can do that’.

My confidence is in this happening is not high though.

Most IT departments will resist this with every tool at their disposal … wanting to install software remotely wipe my personal PC without my approval is a pretty good testament to this.

But consumerization today is only the start of a this wave of change.

The next step should really concern IT departments … because these users, the people you have failed will next start asking very simple ‘why’ questions about corporate IT. They will ask why things take so long, cost so much, have such poor quality. In the past, people could be baffled with technical excuses, but not more. People now know what is possible because they are using this technology themselves in the own lives (and often in their work without telling you).

– They know a PC from a local store (or more likely a Mac from the Apple Store) is often faster, lighter, and pretty much better in all aspects than what is provided at work.

– They know that software as a service (even the enterprise stuff from companies like Salesforce.com) means that installs are not necessary, the patching is not a problem and that they can connect from any device. And they can get it NOW, not in months or years.

– They know that the cost charged by IT is a joke (checkout the price of memory from Crucial vs internal costs). They know the service is abysmal (Apple again) and they know that it doesn’t need to take 2 years to develop useless internal social tools when there are lots live today (Salesforce.com and every other SaaS provider).

So if you work in corporate IT, you either change, or be made irrelevant.

And a quick tip … after a while of you saying ‘no, it cannot be done’. People will not ask you anymore. They will just get on and do it themselves.

No battle, no fight, no executive show down. They just get on with it.

They will then ask ‘why are we paying for corporate IT’.

And then they won’t be.



Slaying the sacred cows of cloud technology, one by one

Take any new technology and you will have two groups of passionately arguing about it:

1) The evangelists, who espouse the transformational value of the technology, who see its potential to enable new business models, new ways of working and great savings (there is always a cost element)

2) The pragmatists, who whilst they see some value in it and understand the technology, predict that the impact will be far less than the evangelists believe and the technology is nothing more than incrementally better than what we have today, and has been around for a while anyway

And the truth is that they are both right to some degree.

The reality is somewhere in the middle. new technology can transform business models, render market leaders powerless and enable new ways of working, but the time taken usually takes longer than predicted and when it does finally peak, has an impact often greater than even the evangelists predicted.

Amara’s law, “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run“, again and again turns out to be true.

And ‘cloud‘ is no exception to this.

A plethora of startups, a deluge of new ‘cloud’ conferences, and a never ending cycle of press announcements show that whether this is truly disruptive or not, a lot of people see this as a way to make money.

But is this transformational or hype?

How do you know?

More seasoned watchers will look beyond the hype, to real evidence of change. They disregard the ‘placed’ PR stories and useless predictions about hypothetical market growth, what they do is ‘look for the slaying of the sacred cows‘. These are harder to find, but these are the signs by which we can make a true judgement.

The sacred cows are the points made by the pragmatists to counter the evangelists.

They are usually pretty consistent. 

  • It doesn’t scale
  • Only applicable to startups
  • Not suitable for Government
  • Doesn’t work with technology x, y, z
  • ABC company doesn’t use it
  • Analyst XYZ said not mainstream for 3/5/7 years …

and so on, but never forgetting …

  • It isn’t secure (always the bastion of the pragmatists defence)

In the early stages, the pragmatists will show most if not all scared cows to be in their favour

So, if you want to judge whether a technology is going to be disruptive, then look for the slaying of these sacred cows.

And in cloud, boy are we seeing those sacred cows slain:

  • Amazon knocked the scalability argument into touch (does your internal IT have greater scale than Amazon? No, I thought not)
  • The customer base of Salesforce.com blew apart the startup point
  • Cloud first by the US CIO made cloud the default choice

… and the list goes on.

[Interestingly, Vivek Kundra, the former CIO who advocated the benefits of cloud, has recently joined Salesforce.com as Executive VP of Emerging Markets. Smart move by Salesforce.com, not in the recruitment, but also in the role]

The latest announcement about BBVA, the Spanish Bank switching to Google apps, knocked a major hole in the pragmatists last defence of cloud.

So, if you were a pragmatist about cloud, now is the time to reconsider your position. When finance and government customers adopt a technology the security concerns may not have been completely answered, but are answerable.

The last bastion of the pragmatist is looking like a small sand bank that is quickly being surrounded by the incoming tide. 

This will not prevent CIOs holding onto their views, defending internal IT and arguing against cloud.

They are wasting their time.

Instead of defending their departments, they are undermining their future.

There are legitimate business areas that companies may want to keep in-house and private, but to apply this policy blindly across a company is not only wrong, but naive about the value that cloud can bring.

Either you will make the decision to investigate the value of cloud, or your board will.

With consumer cloud services leading enterprise cloud in adoption levels and service richness, it is a complacent CIO who assumes that his board members don’t understand the benefits in agility, price, and scale that cloud services can bring. The reason is because they are already likely to be using them personally.

The annual review is dead

The annual review is dead. Welcome to the world of real time reviews, and ongoing live feedback.

2012 is the year when social software really starts to gain traction real inside organisations.

I don’t mean the useless internal collaboration systems that everyone avoids (whilst they use the external ones that actually work)

I mean social HR tools.

Those HR tools that you have to use a couple of times a year, the ones that you think are mostly a waste of time.

They are getting all social.

And your review is going to change forever.

Why? … because the companies that provide HR services are busy buying social media companies that provide real time feedback on you and your colleagues inside the organisation. The official name for this software is Human Capital Management. All you need to know is that this that those hated HR systems are going social.

– SAP has bought SuccessFactors … and paid $3.4bn for it. That is serious cash. You don’t do that unless you are pretty confident that customers are going to want this.

– Salesforce.com has bought Rypple … and is rebranding it Successforce (interesting name by the way … as close to a corporate giving its competition the finger as is possible I think). It paid a lot less (probably in the $100m region), but still a decent amount of money.

So how does this affect John Doe in whatever.com?

Instead of posting party pictures on Facebook and ranting about poor service on Twitter, you will be thinking how you can manage your reputation inside the organisation. That broken, painful review process is going real-time, all the time. So you need to start asking yourself some questions:

– How do you become the key connector inside your organisation?

– How can you generate more ‘Likes’ than your co-workers?

– What will you do to win ‘badges’ and be elected into virtual positions?

– What will you do to build a valued network both inside AND outside the company.

OK, you may think, this doesn’t matter. Another distraction, another fad, but there is one point that you will care about … your pay. As social tools, and social HR tools enter businesses, they will start to give managers, HR departments and the rest of your company a very clear, real time picture of who is adding value and who isn’t. Remember, HR has a very strong incentive for you to play their game. They can fire you. The play or be fired motivation is a pretty strong one.

If you stay quiet, do what is needed, keep yourself to yourself, then the world is going to become a lot more challenging if you want a pay rise or to snag a bonus – or even to just keep your job. The good news is that if you help people, really make a difference to others and customers love you, then your world could start to change for the better in 2012.

Like it or not, the real time review is going to be a reality for many in 2012.