It’s funny. Whenever I give a talk from stage, or talk to a few colleagues or even get asked for advice on strategy, it all revolves around the same cause. For some, it’s “we’re in this mess” while for others it’s “we have this great opportunity” and they always point to the same thing. It’s the Consumerization of IT (CoIT) that has been the reason we’re moving forward with mobile. What I find so funny about all this is that none of them get it. It’s not CoIT that has led so many businesses to start adopting mobile as a way to enhance access to their ecosystem. This misunderstanding is the whole reason why so many companies are having so much trouble getting to the point where mobile is no longer just a thought but a way of doing business.
My mother has an iPhone. She’s had a Blackberry for work for years but couldn’t get her personal email on it and certainly couldn’t figure out how to get apps on her device either. My brother and I went down the path of least resistance and got her an iPhone, and then, of course we let the grandchildren show her how to use it. It’s nice not being the one who has to fix every problem, although I am not sure my daughters agree. She doesn’t know how to use everything on her phone but she has figured out the app store and has downloaded the apps she needs. Invariably, this leads to, why can’t my work blackberry be this easy? How come I can’t add apps to it? Why does work make it so complicated for me.?
Here’s the thing, my mother’s work values security. It cares about the email and other documents people can access because it has to follow regulations. Yet, it is still in the midst of an iOS pilot that I know about and yet my mother has no clue where to go to ask to be part of it. Her question is quite simple though, how do I get this document on my computer so I can work on it tonight. It’s a struggle many of have had and some of us have discovered things like USB keys or if we are a little smarter, we have found Dropbox, or Box to sync our files with. Others go the low-tech route and email the documents they need to themselves. They aren’t trying to break security they’re just trying to get their work done and they want it to be easy.
At home, everything is simple. It takes a few clicks to set up an email account on a phone, another couple of clicks to set up a file sharing service on a tablet. People don’t spend time thinking about where their documents are. The companies that make the apps that they use and love have focused on the user experience. The most my mother ever thinks about is whether the photo of her grandchildren is on her phone or not. It’s a binary decision, yes or no. She pulls out her phone and presses an app and 5 seconds later she is showing photos of her grand kids to whomever wants to see them, or can’t get away fast enough.
What most companies fail to realize is that’s it’s not about the consumerization of IT but rather about the consumerization of the user experience (UX). What most companies see as people understanding IT better is really just things getting so easy that anyone can do them. The user experience no longer means that you have to place a call to IT to connect to the Internet. You don’t need to install some app with a 25-digit key just to look at word document on your tablet. They can watch the latest premier league game on the phone or tablet at the touch of a finger but it still takes 10 clicks, a password, a dial-in code plus the phone code just to join a web conference at work.
We are past the age of the monolithic app that slices, dices, and chops and can still saw through a soda can like butter when it is done. People just want to do one thing at a time. They don’t need something that looks like a submarine console designed to solve every possible scenario when all they want to do is read a document and make a change in the third paragraph without coming into the office. They don’t want to have to worry about zooming in 200% or wearing a magnifier to make sure they hit the right part of the screen to make a change. They just want it to be simple. Their goal is to get the work done they need to when and where they need to do it.
It’s not the consumerization of IT that is leading people to be more flexible and agile, but rather the consumerization of the UX that makes it possible for them to do their expenses while paying the check at the restaurant. The focus of your people on the user experience is what makes or breaks a company’s decision to go mobile. The whole reason that the bring your own device (BYOD) movement was born wasn’t because people wanted to spend money on their own devices, rather it was due to the fact that companies were more focused on the bottom line than giving people the tools they needed to get the job done.
You see, users figured out a long time ago that the UX was key, and they will pay a premium for that user experience. If a company doesn’t spend time following the FUN principle, focusing on the user needs, of which UX is one of the highest, users will find another way to do things. They no longer have to be tied to the app that the company wants them to use, there are too many other choices out there. Whether it is BYOD or BYOA (bring your own app) they will do whatever makes their lives simpler and easier. It’s time businesses stop worrying about the Consumerization of IT and start worrying about the consumerization of the user experience. When you build a crapplication, users will run. When you build a kick ass user experience that is simple, easy to use, and disappears and allows them to get their work done, the sky is the limit.