Is It Time for the Enterprization of the Consumer?
Instead of workers clamoring to bring their consumer technologies into work, might we start seeing a trend where workers want to take business technology home?
For years we've been hearing about trends like bring your own device (BYOD), the consumerization of the enterprise, mobile computing and other factors that continue to push more and more consumer devices into business environments. Why? Well frankly, it's because corporate IT vendors build products that are hard to use and require a significant amount of "human integration." Consumer devices are easy to use, period. So easy to use that my technologically illiterate father can use an iPad. Let's see him use an old video endpoint.
I was recently reading this blog from Chris May, VP of Business Development from VOSS (VOSS the UC automation company, not the water distributor). In his blog he was discussing the concept of the "plug and play" enterprise. That is, products that can be dropped onto a users desk and they "just work" - kind of like consumer technologies.
In his blog, Chris stated that Cisco seems to have "changed their spots" when it comes to quality of design and the openness of the DX80. I agree with this statement, and I think the spot changing came with the arrival of GM and SVP, Rowan Trollope.
Cisco has always been a good engineering quality but never really an end user focused company. That was fine when the company sold routers and switches to geeky people, like myself, who actually like working with CLIs instead of graphical interfaces. Rowan isn't a typical Cisco person who has lived and breathed cryptic engineering things all his life. From my conversations with him, he seems to genuinely care about the usability of Cisco products, and it shows.
Cisco's use of Android as the underlying operating system was key for the evolution of collaboration at Cisco. It creates an interface that many people are already familiar with, making it easier to get user buy in. I've seen the comparison to Cius, and I think that's unfair. Cius was built at a time when tablets just didn't have the processing capabilities required to give a high quality collaboration experience, so Cisco built their own. Once tablets evolved to where they needed to be, Cisco ditched it.
Chris also stated in his blog how he wants to install one of these devices at home because of the high quality experience, and that got me thinking about the impact that could have.
Instead of workers clamoring to bring their consumer technologies into work, might we start seeing a trend where workers want to take business technology home? The DX70 and DX80 would make outstanding telecommuter tools, and I can see the appeal of taking them home. The same could be said for some of the newer Polycom devices with automated lighting control and sound damping.
The usability of enterprise collaboration technology is finally getting good enough that we might start seeing the consumerization pendulum swing towards enteprization.
I can see the interest in this trend for VOSS and the other UC management vendors as well. If this trend is going to actually happen, then stuff needs to work easily. From a user standpoint, this means that devices actually do have to be "plug and play" and that means more than just connecting easily. Dial plans need to be carried over from traditional systems, features require auto-provisioning, and the user must no longer be the integration point. To accomplish this, there needs to be some "behind the scenes" magic to configure the network, allocate phone numbers, link user profiles and provision classes of service.
While the cool technology, slick interface and low price point might initially create greater demand for devices like the DX70 and DX80, the provisioning and automation of all the stuff that happens in the background must be as dead easy as what the user sees. This becomes increasingly more important as UC becomes used in automating multi-step workflows and communications enabled business process actually becomes a reality.
VOSS and the other management vendors have focused on improving user experience and IT process for years. The vendors have done an increasingly better job with improving things for the IT professional, but now it appears the focus has turned to the user. Perhaps we're on the cusp of seeing more business grade technology taken home. That would be a welcome switch in this industry.