Not too long ago, it used to be the case that when it came to technology, consumers would follow the beat of the drum set by businesses. Today however, this has been flipped on its head. The proliferation of consumer technology has meant that today’s employees are more tech-savvy than ever, and this has led to what has been commonly described as “the consumerisation of IT”.
Advances in consumer technology have put a spotlight on the important gaps in the way businesses prioritise and use technology, creating conflict with employees who want to be able to use devices they are familiar with in their working environment. Most users get frustrated when forced to use the often restrictive devices sanctioned and deployed by the company IT department, which often leads to a drop in morale and productivity.
Alongside new device advancements, collaborative and information sharing technologies like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype and Facebook Messenger have also become integral to people’s everyday life – but these platforms are sometimes cordoned away from their working lives. Nevertheless, the ‘digital natives’ of Generation Y are becoming more vocal in their demand for “consumerised” technologies.
Raised in a culture of sharing and transparency, these digital natives are far more likely to decouple work from a specific location. They are therefore leading the call for more collaborative technologies that enable this flexible approach to working and productivity.
However, as digital natives have high expectations of technology in every area of their lives, organisations need to go much further than single point solutions such as e-mail, smartphones or teleconferencing screens in order to reach these savvy digital natives and maintain workforce cohesion and management.
In a recent survey, two-thirds of employees stated that they felt it was important for their employers to be a leader in unified communications and collaboration (UCC) technologies. This is in stark contrast to the 73 per cent of decision makers who expressed that the end users had very little influence on their UCC plans. Clearly, there is a need for greater communication between the two – pun intended.
If they are not part of the decision making process, digital natives are apt at finding their own ways of collaborating that are easier, quicker, and more convenient, often ignoring company directives. While this can be acceptable to an individual, it heralds chaos for employer, as this kind of behaviour can lead to a tangled web of various collaboration platforms and tools, and can soon get out of control.
Unifying communications tools such that all elements of the collaboration process work with each other requires firms to establish a level of consistency. This is particularly important while confusion reigns regarding BYOD, and familiarity with consumer technologies dictates younger workers’ interactions with office systems.
The right approach to technology can not only bring together these disparate platforms, but also help to connect team members from any location or any device. However, businesses must also recognise the capabilities of technology to augment and improve upon face-to-face interactions, which can have the added bonus of more easily attracting talent from the millennial generation.
Too many businesses fall into the mindset that technology is a second-best substitute for face-to-face meetings, but generation Y has been shown to not subscribe to this manner of thinking. Generation Y acknowledges that technology has the power to improve the traditional collaborative process, enhancing the output of meetings and bolsters the contribution of each participant.
By embracing this increasingly vocal generation’s needs, the result is often a more enthused workforce that is better able to share ideas, respond to stakeholders and drive the business towards its goals.
The employees of tomorrow are only going to become more tech-savvy and more demanding, so the onus is on IT departments to find a compromise by implementing collaborative solutions that meet both party’s needs and help drive the business forward – only then will businesses find themselves out of the digital dark ages.