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Steve Jobs Knew What Women Want

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To use the Twitter vernacular, female-driven technology is "trending." The IT sector is no longer dominated by men, and companies that ignore this trend are doing so at their own peril.

About a decade ago, 80 to 90 per cent of total IT spending was in the enterprise market.

But today, with tablets, smart phones and other "must-have" gadgets, over 50 per cent of IT spending comes from the average consumer. And while purchases in the enterprise market are still substantial, they're waning by comparison.

Think about this: if the enterprise IT market had a sex, it would be male. If the consumer IT market had a sex, it would be female.

Why? According to Bridget Brennan, author of Why She Buys, it's because women either make or influence three-quarters of purchase decisions in the household.

In reality, women hold the purse strings, and their grip is tightening. Why? Because today, they're better educated, and make more money than younger men.

Furthermore, women prioritize different things when it comes to technology. Women demand ease-of-use, simplicity, integration, design, elegance, and colour.

Remember Mel Gibson's character in the 2000 romantic comedy, What Women Want? In the movie, Gibson played a womanizing executive who magically gained the ability to hear women's thoughts. Talk about a marketer's dream!

But to find a real life Nick Marshall, one needn't look further than Steve Jobs.

It was almost as if he was in the minds of women when he dreaming up the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Little wonder then, after his Jobs's death, that Apple is the most valuable company in the world.

It may be difficult for technology companies to replicate Apple's success, but there are a lot of little things firms can do to remain competitive and relevant in the changing technology world.

Technology companies must recalibrate, and become shrewder than ever in order to win women over. Today's executives not only have to become technology literate, but also female literate.

They have to hire more women at IT companies. Most estimates say that about 15 per cent of engineers in Silicon Valley are women. But this number is growing. At my firm, T4G Limited, 30 per cent of our leadership team are women. So are many of our new hires.

Women are one of the reasons we've grown beyond our Toronto office, and have expanded to St. John, Halifax, Moncton, Fredericton, Vancouver, and Saco, Maine.

It's stunning how many IT companies overlook the psychology of gender when we all know that men and women look at the world differently. Apple gets it. Microsoft is beginning to get it. Just look at its widely popular Kinect, the motion sensing device for the Xbox 360 gaming console. Nintendo's Wii took gaming to a new level in 2006 and then Microsoft took the next logical step with Kinect by unshackling gamers and allowing them to play simply by using body motion and spoken commands.

A decade ago, almost all gamers were male. Now many of them are female and playing games designed with them in mind. Dance Central 2 anyone?

Even on the Enterprise IT side, we're seeing this trend to female driven design begin to trickle forward. Employees -- both male and female -- who are used to the ease-of-use of their consumer technology products, are demanding the same from Enterprise technology products.

The likes of IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Cisco, HP and others had better heed to these demands and quickly. Microsoft has proven it can adapt to consumerization with Kinect. The jury is still out on some of the others.