2 February 2016
Technology is all about the user. Software is developed according to their desires, concerns and ideas. And new devices and systems succeed when they pre-empt the future want of the consumer.
But is that always a good thing within a business environment? In which central IT departments have to balance cost and security, with the desires of tech-hungry user.
User demands and IT reality don’t always align. And balancing corporate objectives with digital innovation is going to be a huge challenge for many over the coming years. Businesses that want to strike it right should focus on three key areas: commercial; operational; and cultural.
It is hard to find a big business that does not have internationally travelling staff. But with travel comes the challenge of providing staff with the tools to work wherever they are. A construction company, for instance, will have mobile senior staff needing constant connection in transit, on a building site and a hotel room.
But complete autonomy through unrestricted roaming can lead to costs in the thousands for a single business trip, particularly if the staff member is using a company phone to check personal email and call home. An alternative option is restricted roaming across all internationally used devices, which will save money, but have the side-effect of leaving important staff out of the loop.
A potential resolution can be found in partial data restriction or a BYOD solution. Tools that are IT enabled, but user controlled, encouraging responsibility and cost awareness in both camps.
Automation is a potentially revolutionary emerging trend in tech. Removing time-consuming and menial tasks from an employee’s workload frees them to focus on the parts of their job that yield the most return on their time for the business.
The impact of automation can be exemplified in the work of call centre staff. Whereas once the filing of a recorded call to a CRM system had to be done manually, automation can now take care of it as soon as the phone is put down. So the analytics job can begin right away.
This is the kind of operational capability employees will expect in the future. So using better and more reliable data provision to introduce automated call logging to a CRM system is an ideal way for IT departments to not only meet expectations, but increase organisational efficiency.
Corporate culture is perhaps the most important factor to consider for businesses trying to balance staff IT expectations with what is realistic.
For IT departments, the biggest concerns when thinking about tech are almost certain to be security, cost and resource management. For staff, it’s functionality, connectivity and access to modern devices. In many cases these positions can clash, meaning one group becomes unhappy with the other. And unhappy employees are no foundation on which to build successful businesses.
In order to maintain the equilibrium and good employee relationships, IT decision making should follow the company culture.
For example, if IT has historically set the parameters of how the rest of the company interacts with devices and data, then their considerations should be put first. So if they want to prioritise moving to a single number for fixed and mobile, they should be listened to.
However, if the company has traditionally allowed employees relative freedom with tech then substantial changes could well cause upset and alienation. Many people will expect their company to trust them to use data and devices responsibly. They will understandably feel an erosion of that trust if forced to use too much automation software that they believe prevents them from working to the best of their capabilities.
The balance is crucial. Those who get it right will benefit from happy staff and a content IT department. Those who get it wrong will face high staff turnover and increasingly complicated IT decision making.
2 February 2016 | Cem Ahmet
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.