Dell and Intel has released findings from the final phase of a multi-year research effort that shows IT consumerization is dependent on an open-minded approach by organizations, and most likely to succeed with specific, pre-defined parameters. Insights from the Evolving Workforce Research program, which includes feedback from 8,360 workers worldwide and 29 interviews with global experts and senior business leaders, indicate that business leaders see the consumerization of IT – including greater employee input in IT provision, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives and workplace flexibility – as a way to generate additional employee productivity and loyalty. However, while there is growing awareness among organizations that greater flexibility in employee technology choices can enhance productivity, the research also shows that organizations are still grappling with the security challenges and threats this can present.
With a shift towards increased technology choice and mobility occurring over the past three to five years, companies are striving to better understand the value of creating IT infrastructures which support digitally savvy workers who do not adhere to 9 to 5 routines. By increasing technology choices for the workforce, employees are able to select solutions that suit their preferences and therefore optimize their outputs. But as the report outlines, greater choice in technology and IT decisions gives rise to concerns around established workplace security protocols, namely security risks such as hacking and data loss.
Among the key findings of the report are:
- Technology choice leads to productivity: there is a growing awareness in the business community that companies can benefit from increased workforce productivity by allowing employees to have some level of choice in what technology they use and the degree of mobility they have. Depending on the individual organization’s circumstances, clear parameters around levels of choice need to be established. It is then that business leaders can better see how technology catered to individual working styles can create efficiency gains and optimize results.
- Productivity vs. traditional business concerns: companies are clearly trying to determine whether any increased productivity generated from greater technology choice among employees outweighs the associated risks. There is consensus among business leaders that the use of personal devices in the workplace exposes the company to increased security risks and potential data mismanagement. As well as the challenge of measuring productivity levels accurately, businesses are faced with the obstacle of “knowing what data is where and if it’s properly protected.”
- Changing attitude towards mobility: business leaders accept that the arrival of tablets, smartphones and cloud computing creates the need for companies to challenge themselves to be more mobile-led. Many experts believe that the convergence of applications across devices will foster an even more mobile dependent workforce in the future, meaning that businesses wanting to be more productive must first address legacy concerns in order to be mobile-ready.
- Employee transparency: the issue of transparency with employees regarding IT decisions that affect them presents a challenge for management, with business leaders noting that if any aspects of a company’s IT consumerization policy are hidden from employee view, they may backfire. They agree that being transparent with employees helps build trust and goes a long way in harnessing the productivity that businesses seek from new technologies and devices.
- Strategic innovation: in order to stay relevant in a fiercely competitive market and make strategic decisions about operational efficiency, most expert commentators believe that businesses should adopt a smarter, more mobile-centric and integrated approach to IT. This requires businesses to embrace the consumerization of IT with a considered approach and an open mind, working with technology partners to develop tailored solutions that meet the individual requirements of both the organization and employee.
The Evolving Workforce is a global initiative to identify and explore future workplace trends and the role that technology is playing in its evolution.