Consumerization of IT continues to gain momentum as employees bring their own devices, purchase cloud resources using credit cards, and gravitate to non-compliant tools like Dropbox over corporate shares. IT is responding to these trends by embracing technologies like MDM and apps like MyIT in order to deliver a great user experience while maintaining a level of control. This approach does give users the capabilities they want. But it misses one key aspect of the B2C equation: the connection with brand.
Consumers don’t just buy products; they connect with the brands that provide them. Apple, Microsoft, and Google make great products. Just as importantly, they deliver a consistent experience their users come to expect. This powerful force is a large part of what is driving consumerization, since users want to carry this easy, focused approach into their work setting.
So how should corporate IT respond to the brand connection? IT’s role is to provide trusted, effective technology products and services. I see a helpful metaphor in the local shopping mall to guide IT in creating a differentiated branded connection with their users.
Big retailers aim is to provide an environment where shoppers can expect to find something they need or want in the store. For the most part, IT has adopted the service model of providing a comprehensive list of items. The trick in the era of consumerization is to hone in on what specific anchor store brand best meets the needs and expectations of your users. Are you a Sears providing nearly everything a customer needs in a rather utilitarian setting? Or would your users expect a more differentiated experience featuring high levels of customer service like a Nordstrom? Or does playing the middle like a Macy’s strike the right tone?
For many IT related services, a more specialized experience is needed. For example, mobile applications are a dynamic, ever evolving space and IT needs to deliver a customized and intensive experience. The internal mobile app store should have a UI distinct from the traditional app store for applications like ERP and Databases. Access to mainframe resources and support can be delivered in a Anchor Store paradigm but for new services like internal cloud provisioning a specialized “Genius Bar” serves user needs better.
For some tasks, a hyper-focused, no frills approach is best. Tasks like password resets, knowledge bases, or phone directories just need to provide user with a low impact interface so they can get what they need fast. It is OK for these experiences to be different from the “regular” store. Get in and get out quickly is the order of the day here.
Online stores have differentiated themselves from traditional retailers on more fronts than the just lower prices. Recommendations, reviews and deep product information are compelling aspects of the online retail experience. IT should provide these features inside their interfaces. For example, they could allow users to sort reviews based on role to understand what their department thinks about a particular software or service.
As the consumerization of IT continues it is important for IT to recognize the entirety of the B2C experience, include brand-building relationships. With new tools and tactics, IT can deliver an enticing experience to their users as well as drive business value.