Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Variety vs Uniformity

It is said that variety is the spice of life. It's also how consumers, in other words we as individuals, determine our own, unique approach to our personal productivity, including our choices of the technology we buy and how we use them. It reflects our individuality, the differences that make each us like no one else on the planet. I choose a Motorola RAZR v3, an Apple iPod Touch and a 19" HP laptop. I prefer powering my Griffen Evolve wireless speakers with Pandora. Your choices are undoubtedly different and reflect your values and preferences.

Business have a totally different approach to productivity. As much as possible they want standardization, from vacation policy to the email system. This drives costs down and enables everyone to have an equal playing field. So I have a choice of one laptop or desktop, one Blackberry, one cell phone provider, etc., although choice is limited mainly if I want one or not. This has worked well during the last twenty years when technology has mainly been used only between employees of their own companies. It's also worked well since the rate of technology change needed solely within a business has decreased significantly, so not only are we standard, we're also increasingly out of date.

As businesses have continued to increase leverage to gain further cost reductions, they have had to go outside their four walls to achieve it. This may be a acquisition or an outsourcing contract. This has the consequence of needing to accommodate a greater variety of technologies, which runs counter to cost-effective standardization they've accomplished, and they're not prepared to handle.

Is it any wonder that Internet-based services have begun to dominate the Communications and Collaboration space? You're a Mac, I'm a PC and we both can use that web-based conferencing service, although neither of us could use each others internal service. These services, born to handle the consumer's wide selection of choice, are perfectly positioned to win the heart and dollars of business users.

One way that consumers and business users are alike? They want it now. Game, set and match to the web. Not a fair fight anymore.

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