by Paul Rudo on 30/07/12 at 9:10 am
Dell and Intel recently teamed up to conduct a study to determine the organizational impacts that will emerge as a result of the consumerisation of IT, with the hopes of extracting insights that would help organizations succeed, thrive and capitalize on new opportunities.
This study was conducted with input from over 8000 workers in 11 nations, and input from top thought leaders within the industry. From this study, emerged the Expert Insights report which outlines many of the most important ways in which the role of IT will change, and how organizations will need to adapt to the way employees are working with information and new technology.
In a world of consumerised IT, you’ll be free to pick the operating system of your choice. Technology choices will become irrelevant since employees will access corporate systems via cloud interface that rely on universal standards.
In particular, the rapid adoption of mobile computing seems to be creating pressure for companies to move in this direction.
In the future, a typical user might have a desktop computer for ergonomically comfortable working, a laptop for on-the-road productivity, a tablet for information consumption, and a mobile phone for convenience.
Companies must be proactive in adapting to these trends in order to keep up with employee demand and attract the best people. This must be done carefully in order to avoid data loss, security, privacy and compliance threats.
As the pace of technological and social change continues to accelerate, the differences between generations will become more pronounced.
From an IT perspective, companies will need to be flexible in offering options which conform to how different generations of employees prefer to work. Older employees will be resistant to change, and will want to adhere to the carefully tested and established processes which they’ve come to know and trust. But more junior employees will be more adaptable to change, and may even bring new demands relating to their own technology preferences.
This difference will be particularly pronounced in developing countries which are transitioning from a manufacturing or resource economy into a knowledge economy.
Trust Between Employers and Employees
There are 2 major ways in which the relationship between employers and employees will change.
First, many employees may decide to adapt a more liberal attitude towards employee management. This will mean moving away from a bureaucratic “rules-based“ management philosophy in exchange for a management philosophy which focuses more on empowering employees and cultivating values which are important to the organization.
There will also be a change in terms of the visibility which employers will have into their workforce productivity. Pervasive monitoring technologies will make it easier for employers to spy on their employees or collect and analyze data about their workers. This kind of monitoring will bring up important privacy implications which will affect the trust between employers and employees.
One of the most dramatic career impacts of this new trend will be the way in which projects are completed. Instead of relying on teams of carefully-selected full-time employees, projects will be broken up into task groups… and these tasks will then be outsourced to a just-in-time outsourced labour market.
In the future, projects will be completed by large teams of individuals – each working as an independent contractor. In most cases, these workers will never have met each other.
This outsourcing trend has can clearly be seen on sites like Elance, 99designs, and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Many working within this industry have complained that the current state of outsourcing is exploitive and creates white-collar sweatshops. There will no doubt be some significant social change occurring as a backlash to this in the future.
Measurement Of Productivity
The consumerisation of IT will give employees the freedom to work from home and escape the limitations of a strict 9-5 window. Instead, business will take place on a 24 hour schedule, and from anywhere in the world.
In a knowledge economy, output is harder to quantify than it would be in an assembly line environment.
Employers will need to place more trust in their employees and give them more freedom in their work, while also focusing on productivity metrics which measure the quality of output and the value provided by the work of these employees.
Change In The IT Manager Role
As strange as it may sound, the IT department can soon become the greatest potential barrier to new technology. This sentiment can be seen in the way that IT places restrictions on access to resources, web sites and applications.
Currently, the role of IT consists mainly of providing employees with the tools required to do their work, and establishing the processes for producing and exchanging information within the organization.
But as IT becomes consumerised, IT’s job will become more adaptive. It will be the role of the IT department to ensure happiness, fulfillment and wellbeing of employees in order to ensure retention of quality staff while also offering an environment which is attractive to top talent. In this sense, the IT manager’s role will have some overlap with that of HR.
IT will need to be attentive to user needs, and focus on adapting to the new ways in which employees want to work. In order to do this, they will have to overcome a number of challenges such as security, privacy, legacy technology and budget constraints.
Employees Will Lead Innovation
Gone are the days when IT decisions would be made from the top and pushed downwards through the organization.
Employees in today’s increasingly flexible, decentralized work environments are much more tech-savvy. They are more opinionated about how they want to work with technology, and want to make their own choices when it comes to applications and hardware. Restrictions and constraints will meet resistance and be seen as unwelcome.
Employee input should be actively sought, and those suggestions should be taken seriously in order to stimulate new innovative ideas. However, there should also be mechanisms in place to hold employees accountable to the success of their proposed initiatives.
If you’d like to find out more about the study, the full report can be found here.