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The Consumerization of IT: Changing the Way We Work

The Consumerization of IT: Changing the Way We Work

March 29, 2012

By: Kyle Lagunas, HR Analyst at Software Advice

Consumer technologies continue to change the way we work -- a trend that’s been coined as the consumerization of IT.

Employees now have access to powerful tools, applications and home-based networks -- and they often expect that same access at work.

For human resources professionals, the consumerization of IT poses both challenges and opportunities.

Whether it’s employee and manager self-service portals or the growing number of social media elements in performance and learning management, the technology that both virtual employees and in-house workers expect to find in their job is changing.

How will these platforms impact the way an organization recruits employees, drives employee engagement and manages their workforce?

To find out, I spoke thought leaders across a range of HR functions.

Here are some highlights:

Lagunas: Many organizations struggle with the unique challenges specific to recruiting and managing an increasingly mobile and tech-savvy workforce. How can HR tackle these challenges head on, and support leadership in these endeavors?

Bob Calamai, Director of HRM & Development at NYU/SCPS: We've come a really long way from command and control management where if a manager didn't see you in your cubicle you “weren't working.”

We're moving more quickly toward a workforce that is more scattered and there are some basic management principles that leaders need to keep in mind.

So what do employees want? They want targets, feedback -- they want to know what's expected of them and how they're doing.

If we ask, “How can a remote workforce linked to technology impact those things -- positively or negatively?” that will help spark some interesting conversations with your leadership.

Lagunas: There’s a lot of conversation around the need for HR to position itself as a more strategic and consultative, rather than administrative and transactional, function. How might the consumerization of IT help (or hurt) efforts to that end?
Kevin W. Grossman, Chief Strategy Officer at HRMarketer.com: To me it’s obvious: it’ll help, if it’s executed efficiently and effectively.

Improved technologies, predictive data analytics, autonomy, impulse control and self-management -- all of this means less employee relations nightmares, less time spent micro-managing and more time freed up to guide and grow the enterprise into the 21st century.

To be able to identify what needs to get done -- where and why and by whom and how soon -- and then actually do this with employees and with teams all over the world -- that's how consumerization is helping today.

Lagunas: There's a widely-held view that access to consumer technology (social media, the Internet, mobile apps) will offer too many distractions, and negatively impact productivity. Do you agree or disagree?

Brandy Fulton, Vice President of HR Operations at Citrix Systems, Inc: The Internet, email, social media, mobile apps -- all of those things that potentially represent a distraction from business are also enablers of business.

Where would marketing be without social media? Where would people who do research and development be without the Internet?

You have to remember that employees love to be treated like adults. They want respect and trust and they want you to enable them to be successful. And if you’re giving them all of the tools to do their jobs, they'll appreciate it.

Author Bio:
Kyle Lagunas
is the HR Analyst at Software Advice -- an online resource for buyers guides and comparisons of talent management software. To read the entire roundtable discussion, visit the Software Advice blog.