How consumers are blurring the lines between work and personal IT

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One of the surest ways to tell whether a software implementation is likely to succeed is to look at your employees. Have they embraced the new system? Do they enjoy using it?

If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, you could be in trouble, regardless of how much your company has committed dollar-wise to the new technology or process.

The success or failure of technology in the workplace comes down to user engagement and ultimately, ease of use. For a number of years now, companies have realised that employees do not adopt and use work technology in a vacuum. What works for them personally also tends to be what they prefer to use professionally as well.

This so-called “consumerisation” of IT has dramatically improved software integrations, both big and small.  While the consumerisation of IT movement started with smartphones and tablets with the BYOD trend, it now encompasses a broad range of technologies that workers might bring into the workplace to connect to the enterprise network. Online services like email, online data storage and productivity applications now often originate in the consumer space and then make their way over enterprise users.

The more straightforward a new piece of software is to use, the quicker it's adoption rate. And this ensures that an investment in the right business technology pays for itself.

Where things stand

While nearly 76 per cent of employees recognise that technology impacts the way they work, less than half of them feel that IT decision makers have considered their opinions when selecting new business technology. This disparity shows that employees do not feel connected to the technology they are using, thus leading to a failure of enterprise technology adoption.

At the same time, according to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study, millennials are 2.5 times more likely to be early adopters of technology than other generations. The speed of adoption makes work more accessible and improves productivity.

G suite leads the way

In recent years, implementing G Suite in a business environment has become an excellent real-work example of consumerisation in IT.  First launched way back in 2006 as Google Apps, G Suite is a web-based productivity and collaboration tool that has becomes extremely popular with consumers and even more so as mobile computing has advanced. The suite consists of familiar software titles like Google Drive, Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Hangouts, and more. ,These apps have become an ideal choice for workplace adoption for a number of reasons.

First, so many folks already know how to use it. People don’t like dramatic change in the workplace or otherwise. By allowing them to stick with something they’re comfortable with such as the G Suite, employees feel more empowered right from the start. This guarantees that they’ll stay with the technology and integrate it more thoroughly in both their personal and professional lives.

One important side note on this point: Don’t discount just how happy employees will be using the same software with the same interface across their entire digital life. For example, Evernote and Dropbox are among the most popular software products around. Over the years, many have embraced each in both their professional and personal lives. Even better: many use the same account for work and home.

By contrast, if a technology is too sophisticated or niche, users will work around it at all costs. The resulting lag in productivity and efficiency then becomes a reflection of the software/solution itself.

There’s also the question of ownership. If someone feels zero ownership toward a technology, problems can arise. Instead, companies should prioritise solutions that empower each user to work smarter toward their specific goals.

One of the most common fears companies have about BYOx is security. Businesses need to make sure their data remains secure. In doing so, additional layers of security may need to be added to prevent the unauthorised sharing of company information. In other words, security that might be okay in someone’s home probably isn’t acceptable in a business environment. Keep this in mind during any implementation.

What we found and what we’re doing

The consumerisation of IT has played an active role in our development of Kiwi for G Suite, the enterprise version of our popular consumer application. We began several years ago with a simple application that improved the Gmail user experience by freeing it from the browser and making it a full-featured desktop application. We then expanded to include other Google Apps like Docs, Sheets and Slides. We quickly learned that many people were using our application to manage multiple email accounts that included both personal and work.  So when building our enterprise application, we did so with the understanding that people universally like to use certain tools in both business and for personal use alike and designed it to make that as intuitive and seamless as possible.

Looking to the future, we’ll continue to make sure our product addresses the need of our customers, whether for personal or business use. The bottom line: We’re committed to riding the consumerisation of IT wherever it may take us.

Eric Shashoua, CEO and Founder of Kiwi for Gmail
Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa