For me at least the file sync and share market expansion has validated an observation I made several years ago that solving for the pervasive over the complex is what today’s market demands.
Sync and share addresses a simple proposition. Everyone wants to access all of their content from any device wherever they are.
While they need to be solved, focusing on conceptually difficult problems often keeps us from dealing with basic needs. We too often “cheapen” those needs by assuming everyone has already solved for that or that there is no real business opportunity.
Complexity still exists in pervasive problems but comes into this challenge mostly from scale. Early on as the sync and share market developed it was surprising how difficult it was for some in the ECM ranks to accept the fact that users (owners of both content AND budget) just wanted access their files and did not see the need to add metadata, workflow and burdensome controls.
It took new innovative outsiders building companies that collected millions of users to convince them. Some still don’t get it. What is worse, some analysts still don’t get it either.
Now just because users don’t want controls doesn’t mean the businesses they work for do not need them. This is a natural progression but the difference is that the market reversed the flow of requirements and funding. In past decades, the controllers of technology drove requirements and consumers had no option but to accept them.
Consumerization of IT is what we call this change but I have decided I no longer like this term. At its core, the phrase is a passive aggressive slight to those now in control of the purse strings. Whether they admit it or not, old school propeller heads look down on consumer technology as something “less refined.” You hear them use terms like “not robust,” “immature” and “inelegant.” What they are really saying is “I could have done this better myself.”
Which begs the question – so why didn’t you?
This elitism, despite the success of all things Apple, continues to slow innovation and adoption in the world of enterprise technology.
It is time to acknowledge that it is not consumerization itself that is the origin of the shift but rather it is an outcome. The overwhelming pervasiveness of the problems being addressed demands that for adoption to occur at all, the end point rather than the data persistence layer and governance controls determine any solution’s success.
For those of us in the business of creating these solutions, a focus on pervasiveness should trump complexity in our prioritization. Providing incremental improvement at scale creates exponentially more value simply because the solutions affect so many more people.
In a later post I will describe the pervasive problem I am currently focusing that EMC InfoArchive addresses. One that is not at all a product of changing user experiences but affects every IT organization on the planet.
Good post Lee. It’s a corollary to my belief that user adoption is the critical success factor that is often missed in designing systems. That’s created this artificial distinction between “systems of engagement” (i.e. systems designed for people) vs. “systems of record” (designed for control but nobody wants to use them). Make it simple and solve the users’ problems first, then you have the buy-in you need to actually be successful at meeting the control objectives.