The majority of the technology adopted by businesses in the future will have its roots in the consumer market, said analyst Gartner which also believes that companies will soon start encouraging employees to purchase their own PCs.
In a research note released last week, Businesses Need to Explore Consumer Technology Before the Next Internet Revolution Leaves Them Behind, the analyst group claims that while traditional enterprise software remains critical, many functions can be accomplished through technologies designed for consumers.
Applications that are making inroads into enterprises include the Google Desktop, AOL IM, and Skype's voice-over-IP software, Gartner said.
"Consumer IT will affect every layer of the enterprise infrastructure and attempts by enterprises to keep it out of the enterprise are inevitable doomed to failure, just as previous attempts to deny Wi-Fi, "smart" mobile phones, the Internet, and even the PC itself all failed," the report stated.
In a recent survey of IT managers by Gartner, 50 percent of respondents acknowledged that more than 60 percent of their staff were using consumer-grade software, whether approved or not. The survey also revealed that use of consumer software is growing inside large enterprises which traditionally insisted on only using enterprise-class products.
"Few organisations have managed to prevent the use of freely available consumer software, such as Google Desktop, AOL IM, Skype because it is seen by users as a valuable tool in the pursuit of their daily work," the report continued.
However despite the alleged importance of emerging consumer applications — such as blogging service TypePad or the photo site Flick — a report out this week has claimed that some online services are not up to scratch in terms of reliability.
The shift towards consumer technologies may not be limited to software. Increasingly, companies may opt to encourage employees to buy their own technology. For example by 2008, 10 percent of companies will require employee-purchased notebooks, according to Gartner.
The analyst claims the shift towards employee-owned tech will mirror changes in the 1970s when companies moved from maintaining fleets of company cars to encouraging employees to buy and maintain their own vehicles by providing a monthly stipend.
"We believe a similar model [to the company car scenario] can play in user computer devices (for example notebook computers). Gartner has two large enterprise clients running pilots in which they apply the automobile experience to computers," the report claims.
The latest report follows an earlier paper from Gartner urging IT managers to play and experiment with emerging consumer devices such as the Xbox 360 if they want to remain competitive and relevant.