With the advancement of digital devices and technology, many employees as well as consumers are becoming more advanced and technologically savvy than companies and even their IT departments!
This is an internal disruption quickly taking place across industries and has been for some time. While businesses can certainly benefit from the ever-expanding consumerization of IT, there are also challenges that must be faced, especially as the workforce becomes more hybrid than ever before.
Traditionally the consumerization of IT referred to employees increasing reliance on their personal devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and computers, in business settings. But with the more recent influx of hybrid and remote work opportunities, many employees are now finding their own software applications to help get their job done better as well.
As more sophisticated apps and other profound software developments are more readily available to the professional consumer, the average person’s knowledge base is growing exponentially as well. As a result, many companies and managers at those organizations are realizing that this is a Hard Trend future certainty that must be understood and leveraged!
There was a time when you had to be an IT professional to understand or have access to many software applications integral to industries. Those softwares are still at play; however, the world is transforming around them, and newer, more user-friendly options have now emerged.
One of the current key drivers of the consumerization of IT is the rapid advancement of digital technologies and the availability of transformative software applications to the general public that businesses and organizations are often unaware of. In other words, personal devices and the software on them are quickly becoming more advanced and user-friendly than the legacy IT systems that are commonly used in those businesses and organizations.
This is especially true when it comes to mobile devices. As many working professionals now have two mobile phones, one for personal use and the other for work use, they know what applications they like, they pay for services that perhaps their company does not, and they know what works well.
As such, they often use their personal devices for professional work instead of the devices their company gives them, which can really decentralize a business process in both good and complicated ways.
Another main driver behind the consumerization of IT is the younger generation entering the workforce. These generations grew up with transformative digital technology and devices that impact their personal lives. Unlike previous generations, Millennials, Generation Z, and now the generation that follows relies on technology for their many needs.
As such, these individuals are prepared to utilize them professionally and are knowledgeable about why certain software applications are better than others, depending on the circumstance.
Both the continuous advancement of digital software and younger generations being willing to work with new technology in exponential ways are Hard Trend future certainties. These Hard Trends can quite easily provide organizational growth opportunities when leveraged the right way as well as facilitating a positive Futureview around employee growth opportunities.
Because the consumerization of IT is shifting to a software focus in addition to the traditional hardware focus, the additional Hard Trend future certainty of hybrid and remote workforces makes for the perfect IT storm where workflow can either become incredibly efficient or a cumbersome juggernaut that may spiral out of control.
Falling behind in your industry as employees and middle managers leverage their own software preferences creates internal and external rifts that can not only inhibit organizational growth but also can create a ripple effect of problems between remote, hybrid, and in-person employees. If legacy technology is being utilized on-site and remote workers find their own software to do their job more efficiently, someone is missing the boat.
The benefit of the consumerization of IT is that business leaders will get top-tier productivity from them, as they will feel comfortable in their role, use the skills they have mastered to do a great job, and feel as though they are helping transform the business and industry for the better! Instead of remaining stuck in legacy technology, successful businesses embrace the creative and critical thinking that comes along with new devices and software that many employees already know how to use.
Of course, there are always challenges that come with adapting new software or processes as a business or organization. The consumerization of IT is certainly no exception.
The biggest concern IT professionals have internally is security. Especially with an influx of remote employees and hybrid work environments, employees are using personal devices or software they prefer over that which is provided by their IT department can pose a security risk if company data is not effectively protected.
To combat this potential breach of information, IT professionals cannot protect and defend their legacy systems. Instead, internal IT departments can be Anticipatory in their approach to leveraging employee software preferences and take the following steps:
Training Role Reversal – Talk to your employees directly and get great insight into the software and applications they find most useful. Let them train you before you find a way to train others on new, innovative software. Do not just ask how it works; ask why these applications help them get their job done more effectively and efficiently. Be receptive to new ideas!
Create a List of Software Pros and Cons – As you have these discussions with employees in regards to their preferred software, create a list of feature benefits and setbacks that you see using your experience in the industry. This helps you better communicate to those who are higher up than you how this software might better meet the company’s needs and adequately reveals loopholes in security to be aware of.
Have Security and Safety Protocols in Place – Here is where your IT professionals can combine their knowledge with the knowledge employees have about their preferred software. After identifying potential safety risks with new software, you can find ways to solve those problems preemptively in an Anticipatory manner! Firewalls and anti-virus software may need to be implemented, so require employees to do so, especially those working remotely.
The consumerization of IT is a Hard Trend that is here to stay and one that will only accelerate now and in the future as a result of younger, technologically advanced generations entering the workforce and the shift to hybrid environments! It is important for business leaders, middle managers, and even employees to take an Anticipatory approach to this constant shift.
Adapting and embracing new software just as we quickly adapted to mobile devices, tablets, and other consumer-based technology, as well as the Internet itself, the new workforce of hybrid and remote employees will be able to operate efficiently. Do not ignore this Hard Trend — leverage it now and watch future growth unfold!
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.