IT Role Changes as Employees Take Control of Their Own Tech
The role of the IT department in many businesses is changing as employees increasingly feel comfortable making their own technology-related decisions without the guidance of an expert, a new study shows.
The research, carried out by the Accenture Institute for High Performance, found that more-than-40 percent of surveyedemployees feel comfortable with and capable of making their own technology decisions at work, indicating a "technological empowerment movement" sweeping across users worldwide.
The study also revealed there is an increasing trend of employee-driven technological innovation, as nearly a quarter of employees admitted to coming up with their own consumer-technology solution to help solve a business problem.
The "technological empowerment movement" coincides with an increase in employees wanting to use their personal computer devices and applications for work-related issues.
Almost half of the surveyed employees said personal consumer devices and software applications are more useful than the tools and applications provided by their IT department.
According to the study, employees claim that such technologies enhance innovation, productivity and job satisfaction, and more than a quarter said they are prepared to pay for their own devices and applications to use at work.
The research is consistent with a study released by software provider Intuit this week that found that 50 percent of information workers now turn to online databases and Web-based productivity apps, instant messaging platforms, video chat services and social networks to solve their own business problems themselves, without involving IT support.
"Employees feel increasingly empowered to make their own technology decisions and say that corporate IT is just not as flexible and convenient as the personal consumer devices and software applications they use in their personal lives," said Jeanne Harris, executive research fellow and senior executive at the Accenture Institute for High Performance. "Employees are surprisingly willing to pay in order to use the technologies they love at work, and as a result, they are going to use them – with or without their company’s approval."
The research highlights the fact that many organizations are struggling to decide how to address the challenges and opportunities presented by their employees making their own technology decisions.
While some have simply prohibited the use of outside technologies, others have chosen to ignore the issue altogether, with less-than-30 percent of those surveyed having begun addressing the issue in a structured way.
According to Accenture, companies should take a managed adoption approach by applying at least one of the following four tactics:
- Broadening the scope of allowable devices and applications, while simultaneously tailoring and updating policies to the needs of the workforce.
- Promoting technology choice. An example is providing stipends to purchase consumer tech as a job benefit.
- Proactively advocating consumer technologies by actively pushing smartphone applicationsor technology sandboxes into the workplace and allowing for safe experimentation.
- Segmenting consumer IT needs by role, by developing a usage profile for each job description.
Harris said employees' use of their own devices and applications, which she refers to as IT consumerization, will be one of the biggest tests for organizations in the next five years.
A good first step at overcoming it is to learn the extent to which consumer IT has embedded itself into a business's workforce, according to Harris.
"Consider how to manage the risks and opportunities, and experiment with ways to channel employees' enthusiasm for consumer technology," she said. "The goal is to develop pragmatic strategies regarding consumer IT that will attract the best employees and make the company more competitive in the marketplace, while protecting enterprise information."
The "Consumerization of Enterprise IT" research surveyed more than 4,000 employees in 16 countries across five continents, as well as more than 300 business and IT executives.