The growing practice of introducing new technologies into consumer markets prior to industrial markets will be the most significant trend impacting information technology (IT) in the coming decade, according to research firm Gartner, Inc. The result, it says, will be that most new technologies adopted by business enterprises for their information systems between 2007 and 2012 will have originated in consumer applications.
Gartner says the large scale, high-volume production and profit potential in consumer markets convinced many leading IT vendors to focus more resources and innovation on consumer products during the IT industry's long recovery from the dot-com collapse. Technology providers are increasingly designing products for consumers, and enterprise IT managers must learn how to manage these products as employees bring them into their workflows and processes.
Gartner further reports that the growth of the consumer segment is the single biggest factor that will drive semiconductor development in the next 10 years, and the dominance of consumer markets will have dramatic implications for other sectors.
"Consumer markets will drive much of the industry's underlying research and development, rather than the military and business markets," said Steve Prentice, vice president and research director at Gartner. "This will significantly reduce product life cycles. Consumer products are geared toward ever-decreasing product life cycles."
"Consumer IT will affect every enterprise," said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "Attempts by enterprises to deny this are doomed to failure, just as previous attempts to deny Wi-Fi, smart mobile phones, the Internet, and even the PC itself failed."
Gartner says lower cost, consumer-grade technology represents an unavoidable challenge for the CIO, but it is also an opportunity if savvy choices are made about where and when to enable and support its deployment.
"The usability, availability and reliability is compelling and is providing value to people," Smith said. "Traditional enterprise software remains critical, but many functions can be accomplished through technologies designed for consumers."
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