The ability of consumer technology to drive business change has been a hot topic in the IT world for some time, but IT leaders attending Intellect's annual Regent Conference today were advised to act on the trend immediately or risk losing out to the competition.
Gartner analyst Steve Prentice told delegates that organisations can no longer control staff use of new technologies, suggesting that the era of " social computing" had arrived and describing it as "my world, my way".
Employees do not always use technology provided for them because their own devices, and often working methods, are more mature, the analyst explained.
"It used to be the company with the control, but now consumers generally have more bandwidth and computer power at home than they do in the office," he said.
Prentice went on to say that banning employees from using Facebook at work is "absurd".
"It is the collaboration tool of the future. Even though the battle is over, many businesses think they are still in control, keep their head in the sand and ignore the situation," he said.
"Some organisations think they can build their own Facebook equivalent, and then complain when no one uses it. But people want a simple solution."
Another consumer led technology is contextual computing, in which devices detect the location of the user and feed them with the information they need while on the move. Gartner predicts that this will be as influential to mobile devices as search is to the web.
Houston Spencer, Alcatel Lucent Solutions and Marketing vice president, told attendees that part of the resistance to consumer technology in the enterprise is down to generational differences.
Verwaayen asked delegates how many of them had uploaded a video to YouTube, and only 10 per cent put up their hands. "Why? Because we are middle aged and male," he said.
Anthony Miller, an analyst at TechMarketView, suggested that IT and service vendors are also having difficulty coming to terms with the consumer impact on technological change.
"It is difficult for software-as-a-service enterprise companies because they are not built to support so many transactions," he said.
"Meanwhile, software players are trying to adapt to cloud computing and are moving their legacy software to services, but the move is often difficult."
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