The mobile revolution brought the user experience front and center for consumers. And now that they've caught the bug, business technology is coming along for the ride.
As they look for simpler, faster ways to accomplish more with less, some employees may prefer to work on the job with the same easy-to-use apps they turn to as consumers outside the workplace.
Anyone who has ever downloaded the best-rated app -- or an application recommended by a friend or colleague -- to address a work need has participated in a trend that's changing the way businesses get work done. Just as a "bring your own device" policy lets employees choose the technology they prefer to work with, some workers increasingly want to be able to choose the apps running on those devices -- such as WhatsApp, Skype or Dropbox (my company's product).
In turn, companies may wish to embrace the business versions of employees' favorite technology to increase overall productivity and output. Here's why:
1. Employees can accomplish more when armed with the tools they love. End users are often the ones with the best feel for which tools will help them be productive. The more the evaluation and selection process takes into account their preferences, the likelier they are to use the implemented solution. Which translates into less time for them to feel disempowered and more time spent on accomplishing work.
2. Fewer solutions make collaboration easier. IT leaders explain that when users aren't enamored with the solutions provided, they'll often seek out and purchase -- on their own -- the technology that helps them best do their job. This can lead to a patchwork of solutions across teams, hampering their ability to work together.
Incorporating solutions that employees, as well as clients and other partners, already use makes collaborating with one another that much easier.
3. The right purchase will earn its keep. It should go without saying that employees would be wise to use the technology provided by their employer. The company is spending money for a reason, after all. But still, all too many businesses know what it's like to put resources into a complex and expensive IT solution, only to see little more than a shrug from the end users.
On the other hand, technology that puts usability at the forefront will probably result in employees' being more prone to adopt it. That means less time spent in training sessions, complex deployments and ramping up employees to work on new systems. The company will get a better return on its investment.
4. IT departments gain valuable time. Even in cases when people learn to work with difficult-to-use technology, this usually comes at a cost of IT resources. In fact, 80 percent of chief information officers and IT directors devote half their time to low-value, nonstrategic tasks, according to a Logicalis study. So it only makes sense to choose intuitive solutions that require less end-user training and support. IT departments will then be able to take on more value-added projects.
5. If tech staffers implement a solution, the company controls it. Having employees implement their own solutions increases internal fragmentation and can also keep an IT department from meeting its mission of data governance. After all, tech staffers can't control what they can't see.
When IT staffers make user adoption of the right technology a priority, employees don't need to look for their own solutions. The result? The IT department maintains control, and end users receive the solutions they need to get their jobs done.
6. Happy workers make the world go around. A good salary might lure candidates to work at a company but keeping employees happy once they are on staff is important. Giving employees tools they're comfortable with can empower them to do their jobs well, show them their opinions are valued and provide them with the flexibility to work wherever they need. The result is employees who stick around, produce better work and spread the gospel about how great it is to work at the company. And who wouldn't want that?