Post-PC: A Guide to Managing Workers in the BYOT Era
Mention BYOD (bring your own device), and most IT pros cringe, fearing management headaches and a lack of control. But organizations that can get past their fears will open the door to higher levels of productivity and innovation.
From agents and apps to platforms and iPads, today’s highly empowered workers have access to an unprecedented number of Internet-ready devices, services and information resources in their everyday lives. Their access goes way beyond devices per se, so it might be more accurate to use the broader term BYOT (bring your own technology).
In addition, workers are “double-deep” — that is, they possess deep technology knowledge to go along with their business expertise. So today’s workers get the “what” and “why,” but the pressing challenge for CIOs is exactly “how” to manage all this.
To give CIOs and other tech managers guidance, CSC’s Leading Edge Forum (LEF) developed “The Consumerization Workbook — A guide to implementing bring your own technology, do-it-yourself computing and outside-in IT architectures.” The guide shows how IT professionals can take advantage of the new abilities of employees by providing the agents, platforms and data that enable self-service.
“We are seeing increasing productivity from people who are actually able to do it themselves,” says co-author Douglas Neal, an LEF research fellow. “IT has to shift into the role of being an enabler by providing the flexibility to enable rapid changes.”
Neal says the BYOT trend is not about gadgets; it’s about people stepping up and taking responsibility. Thus, a key for managers is trusting individuals. “People like to be treated as adults and not children. You can’t treat people like dummies anymore because if you do, they’re just going to go around you,” he says.
One of the most important parts of BYOT is the concept of “outside-in.” Employees now use their own devices to access the public Internet and are performing tasks outside the corporate firewall that they can’t do inside. Neal suggests that enterprises move to an outside-in model as well, where only critical information is behind the firewall and most noncritical users, data and applications operate outside the firewall, on the public Internet. What starts out as a technical architecture change becomes a business architecture change.
The outside-in model drives innovation, he says. “All of a sudden, employees have easy access to inexpensive cloud services that are available on demand. Most importantly, they now have much better ways to connect with customers and partners.” For example, people who are empowered with a corporate credit card can make relatively small, but significant expenditures on their own that do not need to go through the so-called gatekeepers in procurement. Together with the new inexpensive cloud-based services, small amounts of money can go a long way, making it possible to try new ways of working, quickly.
Embracing the shift requires a change in corporate mind-set. “CIOs need to think about this as a change-management project,” says Jim Ginsburgh, co-author and LEF research associate. “There are a lot of different change-management approaches, and they all start with building awareness and building demand. And they all end with the organizational changes or budgetary changes that can make it stick.”
Another key is to develop more shared responsibilities between IT and business. “Employees are much more capable than they were before,” Neal says. “We need to take advantage of that capability.” He adds that CIOs should identify a prominent business client who will very publicly walk the talk, and suggests that a good place to start is the chief marketing officer.
The IT department also needs to operate on a small scale and avoid aspirations of being a big organization that struggles with complexity and costs. To meet the growing demand for resources available on diverse mobile platforms, developers need to design applications with portability in mind. Finally, companies need to look to cloud-based services to lower costs and speed up implementations.
Providing training to newly empowered employees is essential. Neal points to collaboration and security as the two major training areas that managers need to focus on. “We’ve spent all this money on collaboration tools, but we haven’t trained people in how to use them. Take videoconferencing, for example; most people hate it because they haven’t been trained to use it,” he says.
Are you ready?
Although do-it-yourself employees have become more empowered and more productive, Neal emphasizes it is much too early to declare victory. He concludes, “Double-deep employees are driving a lot of change, and it's a great opportunity for IT to add a lot to the business. In the end, the main function of IT is to give employees the data and the tools they need to get the job done.”
JIM BATTEY is a writer for CSC’s digital marketing team.