market workplaces. Already, Western
firms are rethinking their traditional
strategy of inventing at home and
then exporting to developing markets. Of the Fortune 500, 98 companies now have R&D facilities located
in China; 63 have them in India. In
addition, vendors and manufacturers are increasingly concentrating on
selling to emerging markets before
entering mature markets. 3 Consumer
IT used in the workplace could help
accelerate this ongoing trend. Many
consumer tools are cheaper, easier to
use, and quicker to implement than
traditional enterprise IT, and they appeal more to emerging markets’ entrepreneurial appetite.
Furthermore, consumer technology presents a first-of-its-kind opportunity to transform what has historically been a liability—lack of IT
infrastructure—into an advantage.
Such technologies, particularly when
linked through cloud computing (such
as software-as-a-service), can inexpensively compensate for the absence of
enterprise systems that, in the past,
limited the growth of organizations in
For companies that have long
boasted established systems, this development means they can no longer
rely on their IT infrastructure to differentiate themselves from aspiring
rivals. On the contrary, what used to
function as a barrier of entry against
upstart competitors might now become an obstacle for all players. Just
as Japanese manufacturers in the
1980s learned from and avoided early
adopters’ mistakes, emerging-market
companies might have the opportunity to leapfrog over an entire era of
legacy systems by embracing consumer technologies. And while they may
have smaller overall budgets, they can
selectively deploy only those technologies—taken straight from the consumer market—that are most relevant
to their needs.
While unknown, one might wonder
what are the long-term implications
of IT consumerization. A change in
work culture seems inevitable, painting a world in which devices are easily
substitutable, working hours surreptitiously extend into personal hours,
office locations vanish or become irrelevant, and only the bandwidth to ac-
see consumer it
as a tool that can
and help companies
cess cloud-based applications counts.
One can easily envision employees
bringing their own technology tool-belts to a job interview, just like the apprentices had to do in the middle-aged
guild model. Judged not only by experiences, but also by the ability to contribute to, and interlink with, existing
members and work practices might be
of new concern for employers that try
to recruit in a post-PC era world. Admittedly, those are pure speculations,
but business and IT executives alike
will have to understand that the use of
consumer technologies in the workplace—the “consumerization” of IT—
is a global phenomenon. Throughout
the world, they will have to address
it, not with piecemeal measures, but
with strategies that help them get the
most out of these technologies while
still maintaining adequate control.
In emerging markets, employees see
even greater possibilities for the use of
consumer IT at work.
As the landscape becomes ever more
competitive, companies operating in
those markets cannot ignore these attitudes. To maintain high growth at the
business or national level, leaders will
have to harness their employees’ enthusiasm for consumer IT as a tool for
1. bbc. India launches aakash tablet computer priced
at $35. bbc south asia (oct. 2011); http://www.bbc.
2. joshi, P. use of enterprise iPad on the rise in India.
business standard (feb. 2011); http://www.business-standard.com/results/news/useenterprise-ipadthe-
3. The Economist. the world turned upside down.
(apr. 15, 2010); http://www.economist.com/
4. The Times of India. on a tech high, karnataka mlas
wish to long in to iPad3. (mar. 26, 2012); http://
5. the World bank. International comparison Program
6. Zhen-Wei Qiang, c. mobile telephony: a transformational tool for growth and development (2009);
Iris Junglas ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is an assistant
professor in management Information systems at florida
state university, tallahassee, fl.
Jeanne harris ( email@example.com) is the
global managing Director of It research at accenture
Institute for high Performance, boston, ma.