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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Let consumerization work for you
Article Type: e-HR From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 11, Issue 5
How technology is changing the way HR works
Hannah TuftsHannah Tufts is based at The Security Company.
“The usability, availability and reliability of consumer IT devices are compelling and are providing value to people,” according to David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow (Smith, 2005). In 2005, Gartner, Inc., the US-based IT research and advisory company, predicted consumerization (the use of personally owned devices such as tablet PCs and smartphones for work) would be the most significant trend affecting information technology during the next ten years.
Seize the opportunity
There are very few IT consumerization experts and, as a result, every corner of enterprise must learn how to manage these products as employees introduce them into a growing variety of workflows and processes. Consumerization presents a challenge as well as an opportunity for an organization if smart and responsible choices are made about where and when to enable and support it. HR plays a fundamental role in supporting the creation of policy for the use of consumer devices and social media tools within the workplace. HR departments should be seeking to support the transformation of the organization’s IT infrastructure by adopting a pragmatic approach to managing the risks of consumer IT while embracing the benefits.
Communicate and collaborate
Policies and monitoring are limited as to what they can restrict; few organizations have been able to prevent the use of free software, such as Google Desktop and Skype, because it is seen by users as a valuable tool in their daily work. Corporate support in favor of consumer devices for professional use will enhance the reputation of multiple departments as they demonstrate their ability to collaborate with one another to benefit the organization as a whole.
Balance the risks
A recent survey of IT consumerization conducted by IDC on behalf of Unisys revealed that 95 percent of respondents have used technology they purchased themselves for work (Unisys, 2011). The survey, which covered 2,820 workers from ten countries and 610 employers, also showed that employees use consumer devices at twice the rate employers reported, suggesting that employers are unaware of what is really going on in their workplace.
Employees not only want to use the devices and technologies they are comfortable with for work, they also want more support from the business for consumer technologies. The next generation expects different technology, which presents different risks. Most employees have little understanding of the security risks, management issues, and policy and governance implications present with the widespread use of consumer devices and applications.
Using social media
Some argue that social networks provide a valuable resource in the recruitment process and believe job applicants’ activities, past and present, should have a bearing on whether they are successful. However, in response to the recent introduction of Facebook Timeline, law firm Thomas Eggar LLP advises employers not to browse social media profiles unless they have genuine suspicions about a potential or existing employee (Howes, 2012).
On the other hand, social media’s influence exploded during 2011 as people sought new methods to promote themselves to potential employers. HR has a responsibility to educate employees by generating a social media standard that staff can easily apply. Raise awareness of employees’ individual accountability for their online behavior; one careless comment could damage your organization’s reputation in addition to jeopardizing their own futures.
Everyone should be encouraged to reflect on whether their online profiles are an accurate representation of their personality, background and lifestyle; meanwhile prioritizing their own privacy and the protection of their information.
HR must assess needs, understand risks and ensure support is available to those who wish to adopt consumer technologies. Listen to your employees, and endorse and communicate clear acceptable-use policies based on their feedback. Provide the resources necessary to encourage your business to embrace consumerization and use it to your benefit. Collaboration with the rest of the business is essential if we are to boost productivity by allowing employees more choice about the tools they use and how they are supported.
About the author
Hannah Tufts BA (Hons) is a communications specialist for The Security Company (TSC). She joined the company in 2010 and is responsible for internal communications in addition to managing client communications campaigns and providing marketing support. Tufts graduated in July 2011 from the University of Reading with a 2:1 in English and American Literature. She has worked with WEXAS Traveller Magazine, Penguin Group and CSC, where she developed her writing skills and in-depth understanding of different target-audiences. Hannah Tufts can be contacted at: email@example.com
Howes, G. (2012), “Facebook timeline: ahead of compulsory adoption, employees urged to tidy up profiles”, Director of Finance Online, 31 January, available at: www.dofonline.co.uk/content/view/6005/152
Smith, D.M. (2005), “Gartner says consumerization will be most significant trend affecting IT during next 10 years”, Gartner, 20 October, available at: www.gartner.com/press_releases/asset_138285_;11.html
Unisys (2011), “Unisys consumerization of IT benchmark study: summary survey results”, Unisys Corporation, July, p.7, available at: http://blog.unisys.com/files/2010/08/10-0190-CIT-SUMMARY_;web.pdf