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#PRin2012: Consumerization of IT Changes PR from the Inside, Out

Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a series of 12 guest posts from industry executives predicting key trends that will impact the public relations industry in 2012. Hosted under the hashtag #PRin2012, the series began Dec. 19, 2011, with a compilation post previewing all 12 predictions.

It’s no secret that the line dividing consumer and professional technologies is blurring. You’ve probably heard of “the consumerization of IT,” and it’s more than a trend — it’s a profound shift toward a technology market where consumers have unprecedented influence and businesses must acknowledge the impact of consumer technologies on their operations. In 2012, and beyond, I expect this movement to significantly transform the way technology PR professionals support and counsel their clients, and the way agencies approach their own IT.

The technologies, particularly those emerging in the mobile space, which IT departments need to accommodate under this “trend,” are first making waves in the consumer market, so it radically upsets the balance of influencers in the technology space.

Along with appealing to the IT decision-maker for whom consumerization presents both a complex challenge and opportunity, traditional B-to-B technology brands need to identify where they fit — if at all — within this movement  and capture consumer awareness and preference, something that may not have previously been a chief concern. The opposite is true for those brands that have traditionally marketed to the consumer. They must learn to communicate to satisfy commercial enterprise demands to fully develop their product’s market potential.

As a technology PR firm, consumerization demands that we present our clients with data and insights to inform how their marketing strategies and messages must adapt for the increasingly powerful consumer segment.

Consumerization is an important internal business issue for all PR firms in 2012. At Airfoil, we’ve concluded that there is no denying consumerization, and we don’t think we want to, anyway. We’ve integrated solutions like Microsoft Lync in recognition that employees would engage in direct messaging through other platforms, and to offer an alternative platform that satisfies both our staff and out IT department. Overall, there is more upside than downside to consumerization from where I sit: it has the potential to increase productivity, engender employee satisfaction and provide a more agile, responsive client service experience.

Janet Tyler (@Janet_Tyler) is the president of Airfoil Public Relations.

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