In covering his latest framing for why opportunity in enterprise IT Geoffrey Moore recounts some history:
Let me give some examples. In the 1980s there was enormous trapped value in manually intensive office paper work; office automation, especially word processing, spreadsheets, and email, became the mechanism by which that value was released. In the 1990s there was enormous trapped value in redundant functionality replicated inside every corporation, especially in relation to manufacturing and customer service transactions; enabling outsourcing to release that trapped value became the fuel the drove the client-server ERP revolution. In the 2000s there was enormous trapped value in media and entertainment being confined to a handful of publishers and physical distribution to tethered endpoints; this drove the deployment of wireless broadband networks, mobile devices, and electronic distribution.
That’s what business computing is all about: productivity. You either are removing costs and speeding up a process (a room full of mathematicians and accounts turns into an Excel spreadsheet) or, similarly, creating a new way to interact with your business that was too expensive, or impossible, before (advertising with Facebook and Google, ordering groceries from your couch, outside of NYC – not the best example).
“Entertainment” and, let’s call it, “personal productivity” (health trackers, Facebook for the users [not the real customers of the advertisers], mint.com, etc.) are much of the “consumer IT” benefits.
Whatever the case, the goal of using a computer (and the software on-top of it) in a business case is to increase productivity.