The consumerization of work is accelerating, say the CEOs of Asana, Box, Evernote, and GitHub

“The number of requests we get for an on-premise solution is down 90%. It used to be one of the most common requests. Now it’s almost completely disappeared.” – Phil LibinI seldom miss moving away from San Francisco — aside from friends and food — but last week there was a get-together thrown there for analysts and reporters by some of the more consumerish work software companies. And I, alas, live in New York.

The participants included Aaron Levie of Box (soon to be featured in my New Visionaries series), Phil Libin of Evernote, GitHub’s Tom Preston-Werner, Asana’s Dustin Moskovitz, and Steve Sinofsky, the former Microsft executive who is now an advisor to Box.

The big takeaway: enterprises are moving at a fantastic rate toward the cloud. As Aaron Levie said, according to Matt Rosoff, who attended the event,

We don’t even have to lead with the advantages of cloud anymore in conversation,” Levie said. “The leverage you get via the cloud is understood, assumed, and appreciated by IT buyers. These are the Safeways of the world, the Chevrons of the world. As an IT leader, why would I not want hundreds of other companies, and thus thousands of employees, working on my behalf to make my company more productive, more agile?

[...]

I don’t think we’ll see much growth from legacy IT models. More blue chip companies, Fortune 500s — even if they’re not fundamentally in the software business, or the knowledge work business —  they realize they’re in the information business.

And Phil Libin chimes in,

The number of requests we get for an on-premise solution is down 90%. It used to be one of the most common requests. Now it’s almost completely disappeared.

Marcus Wohlsen writes, recounting the event,

Libin and crew say that their consumer-focused approach to business software is the wave of the future, a way to democratize IT that’s being driven by the same groundswell that forced chief information officers to open their companies’ networks to iPhones. Just like employees started bringing their preferred smartphones to work regardless of what IT said, these workers now want to use their own, mostly cloud-based apps that they feel offer a better user experience and make them more productive.

“Everyone in your organization is sort of like a scout for IT,” Moskovitz says. And IT, he and his fellow CEOs say, is responding.

“I don’t think we’ll see much growth from legacy IT models. More blue chip companies, Fortune 500s — even if they’re not fundamentally in the software business, or the knowledge work business — they realize they’re in the information business.” – Aaron LevieThe consumerization of work is happening at a blinding rate, primarily for three reasons:

  1. Cloud computing is dramatically cheaper for the enterprise, even before factoring the costs of IT staff. And now that security concerns are being resolved, the last objections seem to be falling.
  2. Cloud is inherently more resilient and agile. Companies cannot approach the levels of investment that these software companies can in backup, failover, and redundancy.
  3. End users want the highest-fidelity user experience which is generally found on the most recent update s from the leading vendors, and not software that was designed and shipped seven years ago.

Steve Sinofsky added the observation that companies need more agility in handling the changing workforce, which includes more contractors and freelancers:

That used to involve permissioning, provisioning — it was a crazy process. [With a cloud-based solution and robust permissions] you can kick people out when they stop being the vendor and [you] own the IP [intellectual property]. It inverts the whole thing.

So, confirmation for one of my predictions for 2014 (the report is in process, by the way): the consumerization of work will continue to accelerate at a blinding rate, and this will benefit the enterprise vendors best positioned to exploit it. As Levie put it, “We’re getting to the future faster.”

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Stowe Boyd

Stowe Boyd

Lead analyst Gigaom Research

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