One of our pet peeves is when cloud computing pundits talk about on-demand applications coming to the enterprise when “Generation Y is in charge.” Taken to mean that on-demand is inevitable, we absolutely agree. Taken to mean that we’ll have to wait until today’s teenagers become CIO and CEO before most companies take advantage of SaaS, we absolutely disagree.
New technologies rarely “age” their way into the enterprise. Do certain age groups tend to be “early adopters” more than others? Absolutely. But if there is real end-user benefit to a technology, its adoption will spread across age groups rapidly. The same older managers who once had their secretaries print out their email are now on Blackberries or iPhones. For the most part, these aren’t different people–individuals of all ages are willing to learn and adopt new technology that has a real impact on their personal productivity. And if there’s no real impact, adoption won’t occur no matter how long you wait.
What does this have to do with the fact that Salesforce announced last week that the great ’90’s band Foo Fighters would be performing at November’s Dreamforce conference instead of the great ’80’s band Journey? Probably nothing. But our mission is to make sure that the benefits of Software as a Service are clear to the Journey generation….not just to the Britney Spears generation or even the Foo Fighter generation.
Last week, the young leaders of the consumer internet caught flak for their lip-sync video of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” (filmed on a junket to Cyprus), bemoaning the bursting of the Web 2.0 bubble. In the enterprise, the message to the Journey generation is quite different– in today’s economic environment, its time to start believing in the real business benefits delivered by on-demand applications. You can’t afford not to.