Technology seems to be moving at the speed of light nowadays. As it evolves, lines are being crossed, it’s continually morphing, blending and becoming a different beast – and the consumer is now the one dictating the beast that is born. The individual user, not the corporate environment, is now the driving creative force. Tune in as Chris Ogburn, Director of SMB Marketing For HP, joins Brent Leary to discuss this shifting environment, the consumerization of IT.
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Small Business Trends: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Chris Ogburn: I’ve been in the IT industry about 20 years, and have been with HP (Hewlett Packard) for about 10 years. One of the great benefits of my job is being responsible for the small and medium business space, and covering the Americas.
I love being out there with customers and learning what they are doing with technology. This whole topic around consumerization of IT is a really hot topic right now.
Small Business Trends: What’s your definition of consumerization of IT?
Chris Ogburn: We think about it as a shift in technology, from more business centric solutions to more customer centric solutions.
From a manufacturer’s standpoint, you think about how technology is being designed very early in those stages to maybe a little bit less about large, corporate environments and thinking more about the individual user.
The power of information has moved away from where it was 50 to 100 years ago. Where it sat with the business, the manufacturer, the designer, and they share what information they wanted with the customer. That’s really now shifted all the way to the consumer.
We can get information, feedback and referrals from our friends, our peers and our colleagues. So it is really all about that massive shift powering the consumer, and then powering the user within a business.
Small Business Trends: How much of a role does cultural change within the organization play in being able to successfully make that transition?
Chris Ogburn: It is very important. When I talk about customer culture, you know there are a couple of things that go into that. One is they have to be really eager to engage with their customers. They have to really develop a culture that is built around customer service, engaging with customers, and wanting to have those conversations frankly, willing to address the tough issues or topics, or help solve problems and issues for customers.
What I have learned and find in speaking with people that have adopted this type of approach is that they are the ones that are so much more effective in using the tools like social media to communicate with, and talk to their customer base.
The more that you use those tool sets, whether you are on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, or whether you are continuing to improve and develop your website, if you think about how you are using different aspects of social media tools to reach customers, with that kind of culture built-in, you are so much more likely to learn from your customers, make faster decisions, eliminate issues and problems, and have great creative new sparks and ideas because of the feedback you are getting from your customers base.
Small Business Trends: How do small and midsize businesses go about integrating these new concepts, along with these new technologies into their businesses?
Chris Ogburn: The important thing is just getting started. If you are within your company already at a point where you have expertise, and you are executing, keep doing it. Fuel the engine. Put in effort and initiate and invest time into it. Because it is worth it on the backend.
If you are thinking about this, but maybe you don’t feel comfortable with it, you don’t have that expertise, reach out and talk to people. Talk to peers and colleagues in your community. Get on Linkedin and communicate with business associates. Start to get feedback from people and suggestions around how to take in and integrate this type of technology.
We are seeing a lot of businesses now, even in the small and midsize space, get more comfortable with some of these newer technologies that are out there, and use those
heavily in their environment. Finding ways to incorporate tablets; incorporate smart phones; incorporate new thin Ultrabooks in their environment. Then they think through ways to more effectively to communicate to people through those specific types of devices.
Small Business Trends: How does HP help with this shift?
Chris Ogburn: HP invests a lot of time and effort. It is not only the product development cycle, we are now specifically developing products with the consumerization of IT in mind. But we are also working on areas that are manageability focused, as well as security focused. So we are giving them the tools to manage a secure environment while gaining all the benefits of utilizing these new technologies that enable them to do the kinds of things we are talking about today.
Small Business Trends: How do you see consumerization of IT, five years from now, when it comes to how it may impact small businesses?
Chris Ogburn: Well, we continue to see this merge of the historically corporate driven product sets and the consumer driven products sets.
HP recently just offered this product in the market place, the Spectre XT Pro. This is an Ultra Book product, it weighs 3 lbs. It is only half an inch thick. It has a 13 inch screen. The design is very consumer centric. It’s got really long battery life, eight hours on a single charge, and the interesting thing about it is it also has Beats Audio built in the notebook.
Now you may ask, why does a product you are delivering in the business space have Beats Audio? It talks to this whole consumerization of IT. People that are in the business environment need the tools to be successful, to do their job and to win every day. But at the same time we are all also consumers. So the benefit in having that feature built into the product for premium sound capability, is something that has really resonated with users.
I think that is just an example of the types of things that we’ll see over the next two years, that these technologies start to really blend, and bleed together.
Small Business Trends: Can you tell us where people can learn more?
Chris Ogburn: Go to HP.com and navigate your way down to learn a little more about what HP is doing.
This interview is part of our One on One series of conversations with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This interview has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click the right arrow on the gray player below. You can also see more interviews in our interview series.