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Slave Tools and the Consumerization of IT

There is much wonderment in the IT industry about the “consumerization of IT”, by which the pundits mean “invasion of the enterprise IT area by applications, devices, and approaches taken from consumer IT”.  A cavalcade of “cool” and “fun” technology is storming the enterprise.

It’s not hard to understand the dynamic.  In the pre-Civil War South, slaves were given only heavy, rude tools to work with, even slaves whose work was in factories and craft ateliers.  The reason?  Slaves would break any tools they could, as a form of rebellion and a way to avoid yet another day of slavery.  Only the heaviest and most break-proof of tools could survive, even if they weren’t very good tools.

It’s the same way with the enterprise IT of years past: rude, clunky software, heavy ponderous devices, ugly screen after ugly screen.  It’s as if the management of the modern enterprise were afraid that the employees would break the software if they gave them anything decent.

Well, the decent stuff is flooding in everywhere now.  And that’s why employees like consumer IT.


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About the author

an Gordon is Research Director for Valhalla Partners, a Northern Virginia venture capital firm. Dan has twenty-eight years experience working with technology, as a computer scientist, software developer, manager, analyst, and entrepreneur. Prior to joining Valhalla Partners, Dan was a Director and senior staff member at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Technology Centre, analyzing technology trends and consulting on technology-oriented strategies in the software, e-business, wireless, optical, networking, semiconductor IP, and life sciences arenas. He worked with clients from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Dan was a Contributing Writer and Contributing Editor to the Technology Centre’s annual Technology Forecast, and a frequent speaker at industry and general business meetings. Before joining PwC, Dan spent 20 years in Silicon Valley as a software technologist, manager, director, and entrepreneur, including senior technical roles at well-known Silicon Valley firms like Symantec, Intuit, and Oracle. Dan has also been involved in startup companies in the applied Artificial Intelligence and Web applications fields. Dan has a B.A. (cum laude) from Harvard University and an M.S. from New York University in Computer Science. He is a Professional Member of the IEEE and ACM. Dan lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two children.
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