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Employees, Not IT, Are Driving the New Technological Revolution

ByMark Roberts,
business.com writer
|
Jan 16, 2020
Image Credit: DragonImages/Getty Images
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Find out why businesses need to embrace new technologies that support an increasingly mobile workforce.

  • The status quo is no longer acceptable, and employees now see to it that organizations' IT departments embrace the shift.
  • IT teams that aren't asking their youngest employees or even their own teenagers (the next generation of workers) about the technology they are using at home are doing it wrong.
  • As with so many issues facing organizations today, there is often an easy fix. It just takes the wherewithal and the willingness to allow it to happen.

For many years, companies' IT departments issued employees a suite of tools to use, but they put little thought into whether these solutions were the right ones for the job at hand.

Unfortunately for employees, there was little room for debate or discussion. Organizations simply rolled out technologies to everyone regardless of whether they needed them, and if they were not the right ones, there was often little the employee could do.

The disconnect is real, and it is widespread. According to a survey from Resume Lab, more than one in four employees would upgrade the technology in the workplace if they were in charge. That outpaces the number of workers that would add health benefits to their workplace or decrease micromanaging.

Technology has dramatically transformed how people and companies go about their business. These changes have brought us to the cusp of new experiences, supported by new and emerging solutions. Organizations must anticipate the changes and identify technologies they believe will significantly – and positively – impact their businesses and their teams and decide how to use them to drive results.

The status quo is no longer acceptable, and employees now see to it that organizations' IT departments embrace the shift. For companies, joining the revolution has a practical business case: If employees believe they have the right tools for their jobs, they generally perform better.

Who is choosing the technology?

A report from PWC found 90% of leaders say they are choosing technology for their organization with their people in mind. But, only about half (53%) of their employees agree.

This disconnect happens when organizational leaders do not have a firm grasp on the daily routines, and therefore, the needs of their multi-generational employees. Because of this, leaders often make decisions that are not the right ones for their teams, a move that can have widespread and long-lasting ramifications.

As the PWC study aptly notes, the result is poor employee experience and poor overall organizational performance.

The remedy is to rethink the decision-making process, including who has input and who makes the decisions. IT teams that aren't asking their youngest employees or even their own teenagers – the next generation of workers – about the technology they are using at home are doing it wrong.

The mobile workforce

Organizations have discussed and debated the idea of mobile workers for several years. After much debate, it's here, and its arrival requires companies to reassess their structures and implement solutions that encourage and enable their teams to work wherever is most convenient for them and deliver meaningful results.

Look at mobile devices as a prime example. They have eclipsed desktop computers as the platform of choice for many workers. Currently, more than 5 billion people globally use mobile devices, and successful companies engage with employees and customers in a manner that reveals an understanding of and an appreciation for their needs. In doing so, they deliver a personalized and engaging experience.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, remote working is more the norm than the exception. Upwards of 70% of workers do not sit behind a desk daily, Deloitte research shows. Employees at every level use technology for their daily tasks, to collaborate with colleagues and interact with customers and prospects.

Whether they work from a centralized office or remotely, workers regularly change their location during the day. A remote worker might shift from a coffee shop or their home for part of the day and run errands in between. A worker at the office similarly moves from a cubicle to a conference room to the off-site coffee shop across the street.

In both scenarios, workers do not change their devices as they move from one location to another. But since the device doesn't – or shouldn't – matter, employees can stay connected and access critical information, so momentum continues uninterrupted, even as they wait for their coffee.

What workers want

As younger workers, particularly those from Gen Z, enter the workforce, they expect their work experience will mirror their personal experience. A survey conducted by U.K.-based Coleman Parkes Research on behalf of the Workforce Institute at Kronos, reveals nearly half (48%) of employees worldwide said they wished their workplace technology performed like their personal technology.

That number is likely to increase as new workers enter the workforce. There is no reason organizations cannot deliver against this expectation.

The danger of not doing so could manifest itself in two ways. When employees don't have the tech they need or want, they bring their own. The same is true when a company gives employees technology that isn't as easy to use as the personal solutions they have at their fingertips and use every day.

Meet people where they are

The 2017 Adobe Mobile Maturity Survey found more than 90% of respondents consider mobile to be their "primary device." For many adults, a mobile device is the first screen they view in the morning and the last they see at night.

Some smartphone users touch their phone 5,427 times every day, qualitative research firm Dscout found. According to eMarketer, the average adult spent 3 hours and 17 minutes every day consuming media on a mobile device, an increase of more than an hour since 2013.

Successful companies recognize this shift and are employing technology that meets employees where they are: on their mobile devices. This approach is particularly important as the lines between work time and personal time blend, but according to the PWC study, just 60% of employees are satisfied with the mobile options available to them at work.

Embrace to innovate

Organizations' employees are in the trenches daily, and they know what it takes to deliver. Often, it's as simple as a platform that enables teams to maintain collaboration as they move from one screen to another, or similarly from one location to another. Employees are curious when it comes to technology, and they are willing to invest time in learning a new platform.

Employees are often the early adopters of new technology and are well-suited to find a practical use for a platform before the IT department, and freemium options have further empowered employees to choose a solution rather than IT mandating a particular route. The PWC study found nearly three in four (73%) people surveyed said they knew of a system that would help them deliver better work.

As with so many issues facing organizations today, there is often an easy fix. It just takes the wherewithal and the willingness to allow it to happen. The companies that embrace the trend are the ones that will find themselves ahead of their competitors.

Stay curious

Because every employee is unique, there are countless ways organizations can use technology. As new solutions appear, shrewd organizations remain intrigued about discovering new ways to leverage technology, especially when it comes to employees' mobility.

As younger workers enter the workforce, they bring with them a new view of technology. The younger "digital natives" grew up in an always-on world and expect to remain connected regardless of the time of day and the location. Mobility is second-nature to them, just as it will be for the generations that follow.

Organizations must leverage technology to more competently and more assertively navigate the ever-expanding number of digital channels and touchpoints while creating relevant and enjoyable experiences for everyone.

Harnessing the latest technology permits teams to collaborate and communicate based on their unique needs. How are you using technology to enable collaboration?

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Mark Roberts
Mark Roberts
See Mark Roberts's Profile
Mark Roberts serves as PGi’s CMO responsible for all marketing operations worldwide, driving growth opportunities and building brand recognition for the company within the communications market. A proven marketing leader, Mark has over 25 years of experience in the technology industry building brands, driving demand and transforming high-tech companies. Most recently, Mark served as CMO of ShoreTel, transforming the marketing function from a focus on products to becoming one of the leading companies in the UCaaS space. He has also held other senior marketing leadership positions with world-class, multinational, private and public companies, including Mitel, NexTraq, Polycom, 3Com and Intel. Mark earned his Master of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Leicester.
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