Back in May Chris Dixon wrote a post titled “The Experience Economy.” His POV is that people own more than enough stuff, and are concerned less and less with feature rich products. Instead, people are seeking out products that deliver experiences. If you haven’t read it, I really encourage you to. It’s a unique perspective that I think explains a lot of trends we are seeing today. One of the less obvious areas I think this is having a major impact on, is inside companies.

The Old Experience
Traditionally, people join a company and are given tools and software to do their work. They’re given things like a PC, a Microsoft Office license, cell phone, and whatever else the company deems acceptable for use. Want to use the picture editing software you used at your last company and came to love? You’re out of luck if your current IT department doesn’t support it. I could list a hundreds of examples like this one, but the reality is very little choice is given to employees in how they get their work done. This type of forced employee experience is starting to unravel.

The Employee Strikes Back
People have been bringing their own software into the office for years, but “bring your own device” (more affectionately dubbed “BYOD”), was the first instance something like this turned into a movement. As the iPhone user base grew, so did the number of people simultaneously carrying an iPhone and a Blackberry. What’s significant about this is that people demanded a better experience so much that they passed on a free phone courtesy of their employer and took on the burden of carrying two phones. It’s now much more common for companies to support the iPhone, but Android adoption and increasing device fragmentation means that BYOD isn’t going anywhere.

Along very, very similar lines (some would say the same) we have the consumerization of IT. If you have any doubts if it’s real or not, just go back and read the Yammer/Microsoft news again. No way Microsoft pays 1.2 billion for a fleeting trend. You could argue that Yammer is the exception and not the rule, but I would disagree with you. People signed up for Yammer b/c it was free and they were curious. Microsoft bought Yammer because enough of those people decided, on their own, that it made their work experience better.

The Enterprise Experience Economy
Most people probably look at these trends separately, but I see them as a larger overarching one. People are demanding better work experiences, and it’s only recently they’ve been given the technology that allows them to take control. We spend most of our waking hours at work, and people want to be comfortable and happy while they are there. They want to use software that’s intuitive, familiar, easy to learn, and works on whatever device they prefer.They want to shape their own enterprise experience, and they’re going to take advantage if given the opportunity. That much has already been proven.

More than likely the responsibility of creating enterprise experiences will fall to the CIO. They will need to think more carefully about what hardware and software they choose, and how these things tie together. Work environment is often cited as something that factors into people’s job selection, and it won’t be long before the overall corporate experience is mentioned in the same breath. It might not be long before Chief Information Officers become Chief Experience Officers.