How will the “consumerization” of IT affect software product marketing and sales?

Much has been written about the “consumerization” of IT – essentially the creeping demand in the business world for an IT experience users have come to accept and enjoy in the consumer world.   This has lead to trends like BYOD  (bring your own device) where people want to use their iPhones at work (at the expense of Blackberry sales), with the security being the biggest challenge to IT staff in terms of enabling this trend.

While iPhones and iPads (and really any tablet or smartphone) is usually the driver for this, I actually saw this phenomenon over 5 years ago in a story related to me by a friend in the wireless security business.  He was consulting with IT staff for a three-letter government agency and the told the story of how one of the agency Directors wanted the convenience of wif-fi in his office before it was deployed officially by IT.  So he brought in a home LinkSys router and simply plugged it in (unsecured) into an Ethernet port in his office (yikes!).  The point is, you can’t fight this trend.  But I digress.

What are the ancillary impacts of this trend on high-tech sales and marketing – especially when selling software into the enterprise? I see few areas of impact (perhaps you can think of more):

  • You can expect tablets (and to a lesser extent phones) to be a key form factor that people will want to run your application on
  • This will initially be in the form of a standalone “app” but I believe HTML5 adoption will eventually drive users back to browser without impacting the user experience
  • People are used to free apps – there will be pressure to provide some sort of “freemium” version of your software that people can try before they buy
  • And people will expect a more and more intuitive experience with your application (how much documentation did you get with your iPhone or iPad?)

So what might these mean – if anything – for our high-commission friends in Sales?

I have heard some predictions like “the enterprise sales rep is going the way of the dinosaur” but I think this statement is a little naive.  After all, enterprises don’t buy software $1.99 at a time per license.

The reality is many enterprise applications are fairly complex and can’t be boiled down to a simple app for your table.  So buyers need a face they can trust and a sales person who listens so they can understand what they’re buying and the problem you are solving.

Also, enterprise software may involved thousands or tens of thousands of licenses even at a few dollars a license.  And people simply don’t buy from people they like.

What this DOES mean though is that your sales rep may no longer be the “gateway” to engaging your buyer.  The idea of a “sales handoff” from marketing may be more blended since freemium or low cost products might actually be a marketing tactic rather than a sales function.  And I think this line may further blurr before we gain a new clarity on the new sales and marketing content.

Anyways just a few thoughts on the subject.  Add your thoughts and comments if you have any.


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