By Martino Corbelli, Chief Customer Officer, Star
There’s no shortage of technology demands in the workplace. Dealing with them is a matter of individual style and choice. But what would happen if you just gave your employees what they want? Would this be technical suicide or a smart move for the business?
Changing the business landscape forever
A demanding workplace is not, necessarily, a bad thing but, like everything else, it needs to be managed. It may demonstrate your employees have their finger on the pulse of new developments, trends and innovations. In this instance, IT consumerization can be an opportunity as the more forward-thinking organisations actively encourage their people, often with financial incentives, to suggest new, more effective and efficient ways of working. But, coming up with ideas is one thing. Implementing them can be quite another.
People power Vs company inertia
IT consumerization is not just a buzz word. It is a fact of life today and it has fuelled a whole new drive in the business arena. With plethora of cool and interesting devices available to the consumer there should be little surprise that many of the same consumers look for ways to bring their devices into their working environment.
The consumerization of IT creates new norms that are proving just as relevant to business as to individuals. It has become clear that the money being invested in developing consumer technologies and making their user experience so rich and engaging is outstripping the R&D budgets of more traditional business technology vendors. However, there are a number of practical considerations to make before a company throws out all of its legacy IT systems, buys everyone an iPad and turns on the cloud.
These considerations include important business requirements that are as true in the cloud as they are with traditional IT. A business will still need to ensure the reliability, resiliency, security, cost efficiency, interoperability and compliancy of any systems they employ, be they in the cloud or not. This means taking the step into cloud computing must be a considered decision with a well thought out plan. Unsurprisingly, in addition to the practical issues there are also cultural and attitudinal barriers. Employers often struggle with the idea that employees can use many of the same devices at work that they use at home, often for entertainment purposes. This blurring of the traditional boundaries between work and play is seen by many managers as a potential threat to the status quo.
Time for a bake-off
So, is giving employees the freedom to dictate technology decisions a good move? Should we be “letting them eat cake”?
There is an argument for giving employees more flexible guidelines about the technology they use in the workplace. After all, if they already have access to what they consider to be the best tools for the job there is little room for complaints or demands. And, most people would agree that a happy team is a productive one. But businesses still have to deal with the technical challenges of integrating any new devices or services into the corporate systems and of developing policies to ensure that employees work with them in an appropriate and effective way.
Maybe cloud services can offer a solution? In fact, more and more UK businesses now consider taking IT as a service whenever they need access to a new system, rather than purchasing one and living with all the ownership and maintenance costs that come attached.
Austerity is driving new opportunities in business technology
The Economist recently reported in a Special Report on Cloud Computing, that mobile connected devices are expected to reach 10 billion by 2020. Clearly, most of these will be used by consumers, the primary market for smart phones. The iPhone was specifically designed for the consumer market, it just so happens to be widely adopted by business users. This is the perfect example of IT consumerization and how the technologies being developed for this market are being adopted by businesses at an accelerating rate.
What does change mean to you?
Cloud computing can take away much of the pain and cost of up-front capital purchases and the integration and ongoing maintenance of new technologies from IT departments. But the key benefit of this approach is to take the underlying technical and infrastructure headache away from IT staff, giving them more time to focus on the things that will add more value back to the business. In this way, a cloud service provider will deal with the technicalities for you, while your IT department can focus on supporting your core business needs.
The result? Everyone wins. Employees get to have a much higher quality experience of their business technology and are more engaged and productive as a result. Research has shown that when people are using technologies that are focused on making life easier for the user, with familiar or intuitive applications driving them, then the requirements for training is far lower, the user adoption higher and the resulting outcomes far more positive. At a time when most organisations are rethinking how they can help every person in their company maximise their contribution and productivity it’s good to know that useful tools are now becoming easy to use and pay for, just like those online services we use at home.
Who can help?
Star, a provider of on-demand IT and communication services, has seen increasing demand for remote access tools from its customers. The consumerization of IT, combined with cloud computing, is a real opportunity for UK businesses that is set to transform businesses and their operations.
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