Employees are increasingly using technology unapproved by their IT Department. In his latest blog post, Nick Orme, CEO at ITEC, explores why companies should embrace tech that goes beyond their regulated lists...
Are there technology rebels in your midst? The answer is probably ‘yes’. In this context, I’m referring to an employee that uses unsanctioned software applications, online services, mobile applications or personal devices for work purposes.
The odds are that your organisation has a few, but it isn’t a cloak and dagger situation. They'll be doing it in plain sight.
This could be a transformative moment. I would argue that it’s time to embrace the tech rebellion.
In January, Forbes reported that the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) market is on course to hit almost $367 billion by 2022. The article underlines how BYOD can save companies significant amounts of money, improve productivity and enhance their appeal amongst younger employees.
Is your organisation on board?
A few years ago, the media was saturated with articles worrying about how to manage BYOD policies. As smartphones, tablets and laptops became must-have consumer items, the theory followed that employees would prefer to work from their own devices rather than corporate-issued hardware.
For you, this means more complicated IT management and cyber-security. You must ensure all staff members can access the same data and productivity tools, while not compromising your IT infrastructure. Striking this balance, particularly for larger organisations or those handling sensitive data, isn't easy.
Consumer devices are powerful, sleek, and to some degree an artform. Coupled with improvements in connectivity, cloud computing, and rising number remote workers, has driven an explosion in mobile and web-based applications.
There is now more incentive than ever before for employees to use their own devices. More than this, to use the applications and software of their choice when carrying out their work.
Our fact-finding mission
To explore this issue, we recently surveyed 750 professionals, ranging from IT managers through to CEOs and managing directors, to determine attitudes to this ‘technology rebel’ culture. How prevalent is it in their organisations? How do they manage it?
When asked if their employees used software or technology tools to perform their jobs, even though they are not sanctioned by the IT department, 44% of survey respondents said yes, and a further 18% didn’t know.
Similarly, when asked if their staff still used personal mobile devices for work despite no policy in place, 48% of respondents said yes, while a further 16% didn’t know.
It looks likely that more than half of employees are happily using hardware and software from beyond the lists provided by their IT departments.
Likewise, nearly half of respondents said that their company doesn't encourage the use of software that is not supplied as part of IT policy, and only 33% of respondents said that their company had an official BYOD policy in place.
In other words, we have a disconnect.
Embracing and supporting tech rebels
Employees will always have a powerful desire to use hardware and software from beyond the limited list of tools sanctioned and managed by the IT department. And as consumer-focused technology vendors continue to innovate, this trend seems likely to continue.
But, this is a good thing.
Technology designers, manufacturers and vendors are constantly coming up with new tools and applications to encourage creativity, collaborative working, innovation and greater productivity. As the ecosystem for such technology continues to develop, it becomes harder for individual IT managers to keep up with all possibilities.
A cultural shift needs to take place, whereby organisations recognise that their staff, not just their IT teams, can drive the identification and uptake of valuable new technology.
What might this look like in practice?
Organisations need to become more open with their staff in terms of accepting and actively exploring new ways of operating, particularly as Millennials and Generation Z start dominating the workforce. This might involve creating a structured approach to sharing new technology, getting feedback on the applications & services staff like to use, and even introducing incentives to encourage new ideas and innovation in working practices.
For staff members who are less inclined to use new applications and devices, introducing training and education programmes can be helpful.
The goals should be about empowering staff with the confidence and curiosity to explore new technology, and work out what suits them best.