The Consumer Power Shift

I’ve written before about how consumers are now pushing their technology preferences into their workplaces. This change in how technology is deployed and utilized comes after the era where the IT departments of companies would dictate what technology their employees would use. By extension, what people used at work is what they generally used at home. Now, what people are using for their own personal or home technology is what they want to use at work, and increasingly forcing their IT departments to ensure compatibility.

I first wrote about this almost exactly two years ago, but I had observed this trend at least a couple of years earlier. Yet it seems that some big companies still don’t get it. Case in point, I recently read an article where a self-described “loyal BlackBerry user and fan of RIM” explained why he made the difficult decision to return his RIM PlayBook (also commonly known as the BlackBerry PlayBook). Even though he feels the PlayBook is technically superior in some ways to the iPad , his reasons for returning the device were not about the technology.

He gave three reasons why he felt that RIM was “screwing it up”. His first was “Not recognizing the consumer power shift”. To quote the article:

The fundamental pattern of technology adoption is shifting. In the old world, in which corporate IT departments determined which technology to approve and employees (users) simply had to follow suit, BlackBerry wielded a clear advantage. IT departments loved RIM’s solution for its security and reliability.

But the winds of adoption are shifting. Employees are in the driver’s seat. They are convincing their IT departments to adopt the platforms employees desire. The winners of tomorrow need to create solutions that appeal to consumers, not just their employers.

He then goes on to say that

Such adoption shifts have taken down giants.

He gives an example of beer purchasing in Japan, but we have examples much closer to home with Blockbuster and Borders. Companies failing to see changes in technology affecting consumer choices is a key reason they fail. This is nothing new, but yet it still seems that the lesson has not been learned – or many companies are just bad at executing change.

It took me 45 minutes from opening the box to being able to explore my new PlayBook. When my wife bought her iPad, she was already connected, and exploring within 10 minutes.

It’s time to make sure your company is recognizing the changing tides in technology. Don’t be late to the party like Blockbuster, Borders, and RIM.

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