From Home to Headquarters: Consumers Carry Online Apps to the Workplace

Consumers use online applications and channels for just about everything in their personal lives these days - photo sharing, uploading videos, online shopping, planning a holiday, paying a bill, checking their healthcare records, checking the weather etc. Online applications and tools are numerous and -
more importantly - tend to be easy-to-use, simple and efficient. As a result, people's use of online applications in their personal lives is driving demand for similar solutions to be incorporated into the business environment.

From 2004 to 2009 Internet usage increased 117 percent per week, according to a Forrester report, suggesting deeper engagements with the Web are changing the way people view online usage. Just as professional film crews eventually adopted consumer video technology and home design patterns began to emerge in corporate offices, employees' use of online applications at home is being transferred to their workplace.

Make the infrastructure work for you

Gone are the days when people put up with waiting to open an e-mail, download an attachment, or any other similar activity. The shift in the economic climate escalated peoples' demand for immediacy and further increased the demand for productivity from corporations both large and small. Every minute of every day became even more crucial, and employers required quicker turnaround with more aggressive timelines on all deliverables. Budgets, however, stalled, forcing employees to leverage tools and applications with which they were already familiar (from using them at home) to increase productivity in the office.

Consequently, demand grew for product developers to offer technologies in the workplace similar to those found online at home - powerful, easy-to-use, secure and efficient. Workers today now prefer to operate within an infrastructure similar to what they experience at home.

Around the clock demand

Globalization often causes employees to work in multiple time zones to keep up with customer and corporate demands. A 24/7 marketplace increases the need for instantaneous information exchange and steady communication. The surge in instant messenger services exemplifies the trend. The online tool was first created for personal use, but is now integrated into the work environment, and is used widely by employees across companies to communicate in an easy and efficient manner. In response, tech giants like Microsoft created specific flavors of instant messenger particularly designed for office communications.

Similar to the instant messenger, many businesses and organizations use cloud-based and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions to increase productivity. One example is online tools employed to securely send and receive files easily versus relying purely on e-mail due to various file-sending limitations of email. Such file-transfer applications save time, reduce costs, and add security while increasing overall productivity. Because of busy schedules and tight turnaround times, employers need to know their files were delivered and received in a secure manner. Online file-transfer applications allow sales professionals, graphic designers, medical professionals and others from various other industries to track their files and stay ahead of their game?

Web 2.0

Applications such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and others, which all started with individuals leveraging them to stay in touch with their friends and family, are now essential online tools for companies to reach their target audiences, increase brand awareness, affect sales and even generate revenue. A Nielsen research study released in 2009 shows the global time spent on social media sites is increasing 82 percent year over year. People in the U.S. continue to spend more time on social networking and blog sites as well, with total minutes increasing 210 percent year-over-year and the average time per person increasing 143 percent year-over-year in December 2009.

All of these trends reflect the fact as our interaction with online channels continues to increase in our personal lives, the demand for tools and applications that can help individuals at work increase efficiency, cut costs and drive productivity will also continue to increase. Consumerization of business applications is the driving force behind SaaS and cloud-based applications, and the demand for such applications is only going to continue on an upward trajectory.