The Consumerization Of IT And It's Impact In The Workplace


By:  Guest Author, Kyle Lagunas

Consumer technologies are infiltrating the workplace. Employees have access to powerful tools, applications and networks at home, and expect that same access at work.

From employee and manager self-service portals to the growing number of social media elements in performance and learning management, the technology employees expect to find in the workplace is changing.
  • How will this shift--the consumerization of IT--impact the way an organization recruits, engages and manages its workforce?

I recently coordinated a roundtable with thought leaders across a range of Human Resources functions to participate in a discussion which sought to explore the challenges this trend poses--and to see what opportunity it presents to HR.  Here are some of the highlights from that roundtable: 

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 consumerization 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 it with individuals and teams all over the world—that's how consumerization is helping today.

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. What do employees want? Targets, feedback—what's expected and how they're doing. If we ask, “How can a remote workforce linked to technology impact those things—positively or negatively?” that will spark some interesting conversations with your leadership. 

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.

About the Author: Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice—an online resource for buyers guides and comparisons of talent management and HRMS software.   You can read Kyle's full roundtable discussion here.

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