As we move into a new year, one thing is certain for enterprise IT: the consumerization of enterprise technology is not a trend ... it's a reality.

We can all thank Apple for setting everyone’s expectations around design, quality and user experience extremely high.

More than ever “easy to access,” “simple to use” and “pretty to look at” have become factors in a business user’s purchasing decision. Users are raising their expectations, demanding more and voicing their frustrations with IT departments that lack agility internally.

Cloud Domination

That’s why cloud based software-as-a-service will continue to dominate all IT discussions in 2013. Along with the cloud, both mobile and social remain an enterprise focus as global workforces require better ways to connect and collaborate via secure managed devices in a BYOD world. No surprises in 2013 as this triumvirate -- cloud, mobile and social -- remain at the top of everyone's list.

The economics of the cloud are pretty compelling because many IT departments struggle with running “IT as services business” and just can't deliver the same internal IT services cost effectively. Enterprise IT departments are already planning “hybrid cloud” plans following the 80/20 rule. With the exception of maybe highly regulated industries, 80 percent or more of IT as we know it today will eventually move to the cloud. The exceptions, the remaining 20 percent, will likely remain inside the firewall for specific complexity, security, compliance or other business reasons.

For the time being, Salesforce remains the cloud vendor everyone else is chasing. In 2012 we also saw Microsoft, SAP and Oracle acquire and make significant strides towards the cloud. In the end, it won’t matter who was late to the game. The vendors that provide the best cloud user experience, the best services and the best economic value will ultimately win.

If vendors fail to innovate, fail to remove friction of use and fail to meet user expectations (specifically around the mobile experience), the agility and open integration of the cloud means switching vendor ecosystems becomes A LOT easier than ever before.

It means an integrated best of breed approach also becomes easier and more cost effective in the cloud than it ever was on-premises. These are all the reasons why valuations of cloud vendors continue to be measured in terms of number of users as opposed to profitability. There is incredible growth ahead in 2013 and beyond.

Collaboration Grows Up

As the consumerization in the enterprise evolves in 2013, users will continue to demand usability, mobility and the ability to easily share and collaborate while IT requires security, compliance, reporting, governance, etc. This simply means those consumer-like cloud services now targeting the enterprise market will need to grow up and mature their offerings to meet enterprise requirements.

This is especially true for enterprise social and cloud based collaboration platforms. Businesses will demand more value and more analytics of the underlying “big data” generated by these social collaboration platforms.

Contributions, activity, followers or number of users are all great metrics. However, as customers move along the adoption curve, they will demand more measurable value in terms of dollars and productivity. Fortunately, over the past year we have seen some early adopters start to mature their thinking around things like social collaboration technology.

Organizations are realizing that integrating with back-end systems, embedding into business processes and making social relevant to daily workflows is where productivity gains can be measured. More of this integration needs to continue to happen. More strategic investment, more executive sponsorship and more commitment of resources are required for organizations to achieve that elusive ROI.

The Consumer Spills into the Enterprise