The elephant in the room

Employees in organisations all over the world are increasingly, and successfully, using their Androids, iPhones and iPads—together with YouTube, Google Apps and Skype applications—to grapple with on-the-job challenges and solve them,...

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Employees in organisations all over the world are increasingly, and successfully, using their Androids, iPhones and iPads—together with YouTube, Google Apps and Skype applications—to grapple with on-the-job challenges and solve them, with or without organisational approval.

With consumer technologies increasingly finding their way into employees’ pockets, the Accenture Institute for High Performance surveyed over 4,000 employees of all age groups in 16 countries across five continents, as well as 300 business and IT executives of large firms.

The surveys found that some 23 percent of the employees surveyed are regularly using consumer devices, and 20 percent are using web and mobile applications, to get their work done. About 44 percent judged their own devices and applications available on the Internet more useful than the ones provided.

For companies looking to deal with the need and inevitability of IT consumerisation, the research found that the middle-ground strategy is the best bet, with executives tending to use four tactics. The first tactic is for CIOs to gradually open up the list of allowable consumer devices and applications. For example, one company collaborated with a vendor to customise a set of specifications, such as encryption, passwords and remote locking, for employee-owned phones to be used on the corporate network.

The second is to provide employees with IT allowances as a job benefit, helping raise job satisfaction among employees for whom corporate IT is both less effective and "uncool". Such a "gadget budget" option works well if employees are technically literate and can provide technology options to create a unique workforce culture in organisations.

Thirdly, management can develop a consumerisation profile for each role within the company, because figuring out which groups are most likely to use consumer IT to be more effective helps raise productivity throughout the organisation. A tablet may makes sense for physicians who have to look at MRI images, while nurses who are mainly focused on textual medication regiments are better suited with smart phones.

Fourthly, management proactively advocates the uptake of cutting-edge consumer electronics in their organizations. This can yield real business advantages. For example, look at the British Standard Chartered Bank, which gave iPhones and iPads to its 15,000 employees. Employees can now download enterprise apps from an internal site to remotely tap into their back-end systems and communicate with increasingly tech savvy customers from anywhere, at any time.

IT consumerisation will present one of the biggest tests, and the most exciting opportunities, for business and IT executives in the next five years. Make sure you learn just how extensively consumer IT has embedded itself into your workforce and experiment with ways to channel employees’ enthusiasm for consumer technology.

The goal is to develop pragmatic strategies that will keep employees engaged and productive while sharpening your competitive edge and safeguarding your corporate information.


Posted by Iris Junglas, research fellow, and Jeanne G. Harris, executive research fellow and senior executive, at the Accenture Institute for High Performance

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