Consumerization of IT – An Opportunity for HR?

Consumerization of IT - An Opportunity for HR?Many organizations are surprised to find that even entry-level employees expect to have access to the same powerful tools, applications and networks they use in their personal lives, at work. Like it or not, elements of consumer technologies–like social media, gamification, and mobile–are infiltrating the workplace. For human resources professionals, the effects are hard to miss. From employee and manager self-service portals to the growing number of social media elements in performance and learning management, the technology employees expect to find in the workplace is changing.

But how will this shift–the consumerization of IT–impact the way an organization recruits, engages and manages its workforce? What opportunities and challenges does it present to human resources?

I’ve invited a few industry thought leaders to weigh in:

Bob Calamai, Director of HRM & Development at NYU/SCPS

Brandy Fulton, Vice President of HR Operations at Citrix Systems

Rob Garcia, Vice President of Product at UpMo

According to a survey conducted by Avanade, 73% of executives consider the consumerization of IT a top priority, and 79% will make new investments in embracing this trend in 2012. What factors are driving this?

Fulton: Things that we used to treat as exceptions are becoming the new normal. From road warriors to an increasing number of workers working from home–mobility is huge. Add to that the generational expectations of a workforce who are digitally enabled from day one. If you treat each of these as an individual event, you have a dozen different problems and solutions you have to come up with. If you look at it holistically, you’ll see that there’s a shift happening that you can enable by changing your infrastructure. Embrace the consumerization of IT, and the ability to provide people with the variety and flexibility and mobility they need–you can do all of that.

There’s a widely-held view that access to consumer technology (social media, the Internet, mobile apps) will offer too many distractions, and negatively impact productivity. Do you agree or disagree?

Garcia: Consumer technology definitely has the potential of becoming a distraction—all the more reason for executives to jump in and define policies that enable and encourage positive and productive usage of such technology. But I don’t agree with this sense of ill-fated, inevitable negative impact to productivity. When aligned with company goals, the possibilities are endless: from allowing dispersed team members to collaborate more effectively, to tapping into the knowledge of the crowd, to even allowing the workforce to self-organize and fill job openings and project resource requests.

Where is the greatest opportunity for Human Resources to embrace the consumerization of IT in their organization? Recruiting? Learning and development? Performance management?

Calamai: Companies are slowly shifting away from the annual performance evaluation, and slowly moving toward less formal performance feedback. These types of sharing and information-gathering feedback mechanisms work really well and are easy to use for that purpose. There are products where teammates can comment in real-time on how a project is being executed. You don’t have to wait until the end of the year for feedback from your boss—and that’s really helpful.

Many organizations struggle with the unique challenges specific to recruiting and managing an increasingly mobile and tech-savvy workforce. How can HR tackle these challenges head on, and support leadership in these endeavors?

Fulton: If all of the working parts in an organization are clear in what they want to achieve together–once you identify what you want to accomplish–then you join forces to make sure your plan addresses the people side of things, the procedural and policy side of things, and the infrastructure. I think it is incumbent for IT to work with HR–and engage in an open conversation around the existing state of infrastructure and draw a path for improvement.

What do you think?

Do the challenges presented by the consumerization of IT outweigh the opportunities? How can HR best support leaders as they update policies, procedures, and—most importantly—infrastructure?

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Consumerization of IT - An Opportunity for HR?Kyle Lagunas is an HR Analyst at Software Advice, an online resource for buyers guides, demos, and comparisons of talent management systems and more. On his blog, Kyle reports on trends and best practices in human resources and recruiting technologies.

Kyle Lagunas




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