Empowering workers through technology and mobility drives productivity

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25 July 2012 | 0

IT consumerisation is dependent on an open-minded approach by organisations, and most likely to succeed with specific, pre-defined parameters, finds research by Dell and Intel.

Insights from the Evolving Workforce Research programme indicate that business leaders see the consumerisation 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 organisations that greater flexibility in employee technology choices can enhance productivity, the research also shows that organisations are still grappling with the security challenges and threats this can present.

The research was carried out among 8,360 workers worldwide, and includes 29 interviews with global experts and senior business leaders.

 

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With a shift towards increased technology choice and mobility occurring over the past three to five years, companies today are striving to better understand the value of creating IT infrastructures which support digitally savvy workers who do not adhere to nine to five routines. By increasing technology choices for the workforce, employees are able to select solutions that suit their preferences and therefore optimise 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.

"With today’s increasingly tech-savvy workforce and outcome-driven employees, companies have everything to gain from fully embracing the IT consumerisation and mobility trend that is redefining the workplace," said Adriana Karaboutis, CIO, Dell. "Companies are realising that by enabling employees to work from a location of their choice using their preferred technology, they are taking one of the single most important steps in motivating business productivity."

Among the key findings of the report are that 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 organisation’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 optimise results.

Companies are clearly trying to determine whether any increased productivity generated from greater technology choice among employees outweighs the associated risks of a mobile enabled workforce. 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."

Business leaders accept that the arrival of tablets, smart phones 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.

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 consumerisation 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. 

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 consumerisation 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 organisation and employee.

"While reinventing the operational landscape through IT can have a positive impact on productivity and employee morale, we shouldn’t lose sight of the challenges that these changes create for the business," said Ed Goldman, IT CTO, Intel. "Every company will need to find the right balance between implementing changes to bring benefits to employees while matching the strategic objectives of the business."

TechCentral Reporters

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