"Enterprisification" of the Home

One technology issue I've watched closely over the past few years is what I call the "enterprisification" of the home. This is the dynamic whereby IT, including hardware, applications and services, that originated in the enterprise environment, designed for business use, has increasingly found its way into the home technology environment. This doesn't just mean bringing work technology home, though this is partly where this change has its roots. Rather, it's about how this technology or usage behaviors have broken out of the home office and spread to other parts of the household, modified for personal use. CES was apparently bursting with announcements of  "homerprise" products and services, and I expect the rate of new product introductions aimed at this market to accelerate.

Even as Web 2.0 applications and personal media and communications usage have gone the other way, from home to office, everything from smartphones to network-based storage to home servers are filling kitchen nooks, kid's bedrooms and family rooms across the US. Now, even our second home, the car, is becoming attached to the home IT network, with short-range networking, hard drives and possibly even mobile-phone remote control coming to our favorite four-wheeled hangouts.

The conversion of the Blackberry from a road-warrior fetish to iMac-colored hand candy is one notable example of a product making the jump - largely based on RIM's recognition that the customer base for the Blackberry wasn't restricted to busy professional men who only used their smartphones in the workplace or on the road, but also included personal use, coordination of family activities alongside work-related uses, desire to access media during downtime, and use a cameraphone to capture images of family and leisure activities. So, smartphones have come home, and how they are quickly moving from adult to teen markets as well, as kids emulate parents' behaviors and want more "productivity" out of their mobile phones. Have a look at the Palm Centro to see what this looks like today.

Now we have Jotspot's family wikis, applying a group collaboration tool to the personal environment. Google's Calendar, Docs and other Web-based productivity applications are bridging the home/work divide, allowing sharing, collaboration and personal communication and information management anywhere there's a Web connection. Of course, there is a vast array of "pro-am" applications emerging that put professional-level tools at the disposal of home users, such as Photoshop Elements.

What is emerging is a kind of "third space IT" suitable for both work, home and in-between environments which doesn't recognize the physical boundaries of these spaces, functions in all, and maps more closely to the seamless movements of consumers.  For their part, these consumers need the IT equivalent of business casual clothing and accessories--working well in both environments, relatively inexpensive and disposable, coordinated with their tastes, and flexible enough to be combined in a number of ways.