This sponsored post is produced by Jay Zaveri VP of Product for CloudOn.
Travel back 40 years and you’d notice all the cool technology was found in the workplace—not in the home. Within 25 years, a dramatic change had occurred–and the most innovative and desirable technology not only came into our homes but right into our hands.
Today, the modern knowledge worker is no longer confined to the workplace, and the consumer is no longer confined to personal environments. They are essentially one and the same person. The line between the enterprise and consumer world has blurred to form the new “consumer enterprise.” This remarkable trend that was catalyzed by a cultural change in society has been made possible by forward-thinking technology products from consumer enterprise software companies such as: CloudOn, Dropbox, Box, Asana, Evernote, GitHub, and 37Signals.
How did the primordial ingredients for this enterprise evolution come together in the first place?
- Desirable Consumer Devices: The post-PC mobile device tsunami has caused a shift in workplace culture, and IT teams have been forced to find ways to make this work through Mobile Device Management (MDM) and similar programs. Today, 60 percent of U.S. and European enterprise companies offer a Bring Your Own Device Program. Over 150 million knowledge workers worldwide bring at least two devices of their own to work. To think this was 8 million only five years ago gives some context to the staggering change.
- Experience-Focused Apps: Recently, applications were shackled to PCs. However, designers have taken to building apps that are catered to the user first. There are 125,000 active apps in the Business and Productivity category on the App Store and Google Play. Software manuals are history!
- Freemium Services: Moving from traditional licensing to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model helps reduce critical roadblocks: user adoption, growth, integration costs, “upgrade friction,” and maintenance overhead.
What do we have to show for all this change?
Happier, productive, and empowered workers. Workforce Experience Research undertaken by Forrester has shown that 70 percent of employees in “BYOD-enabled enterprises” feel empowerment and loyalty to their workplace resulting in improved productivity.
To reap the benefits of the new consumer enterprise, here’s the recipe for entrepreneurs:
- Knowledge Worker Needs: Focus on them and build products catered to them.
- User Experience, User Experience, User Experience! All great consumer enterprise apps and platforms start with ease of use, simplicity, and a grassroots user-centric adoption. An early focus on getting the experience right through activity and workflow-centered design is critical to early adoption success. Perform quick and dirty testing with target archetypes/personas and iterate till you get it right.
- Freemium Models: The business model is evolving, and freemium models are an ideal choice in the consumer enterprise world. How do you succeed at freemium? Spend quality time developing a much needed application with a simple user experience and offer it directly to end users in the enterprise for free. Iterate to achieve engagement, organic adoption, and growth. Price, test, and roll out a freemium model where power users, teams, and businesses pay for advanced tiers while the large majority of users enjoy a free service. These active, free users are potential future customers and loyal advocates – individuals that can spread news of your delightful product to others. This model works particularly well for services with a low marginal cost and simple, intuitive paywalls built to drive monetization conversion. If done well, it can stave off building an expensive enterprise-sales team during the early days of the company.
- Tablet-First: Over 250 million tablets have been sold many of which are being used in the enterprise as portable productivity tools. Users spend an average of $50 per month on tablets outspending users on phones. Couple the above with the death of enterprise tablet apps and this is a golden opportunity for tablet apps that have the right product-market fit.
- Power of the Cloud: Instead of a “behind the enterprise firewall” product, stay true to a cloud-based platform. A service designed for an IaaS-based cloud can enable scale across geographies on a global level. Such a service also extends rich native applications and provides broad reach.
- Enterprise IT: Finally, if the goal is to ultimately build a service for the consumer enterprise, entrepreneurs cannot ignore the needs of the IT organization: single sign-on (SSO) with a federated identity, management and administrative controls, logging/reporting to address compliance needs, and security in every aspect of the product. While these areas need not be the focus of early product development, the architecture and design of the minimum viable IT integration are essential when the time comes to grow into the consumer enterprise and monetize the opportunity.
The consumer enterprise will continue to evolve. And with it will come the birth of a new breed of software companies that will challenge the current enterprise software incumbents.
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