Shadow IT and products from The Big Four tech companies provides the blueprint for the workplace of the future.

How often does a battle hardened IT manager hear the cry that users just want ‘to do their work’ and not have to think about IT? It can be a regular discussion at inter departmental meetings, whenever IT is on the agenda. End users do not want to, nor should they need to become ‘IT experts’ in order to carry out their duties.

This issue may become compounded as more flexible work patterns become the norm and users increasingly turn to strategies such as BYOD and Shadow IT in order to circumvent what they see as barriers set up by IT departments, in order to undertake their duties.

Far from this being an issue, an IT department could take this user led revolution and see it as the research and development arm of their future workplace strategy.

If a user, who works remotely, turns to DropBox in order to share files and collaborate with their colleagues, despite the IT policy stating that such services are unsupported by IT and potentially pose an operational risk, are they wrong? No. It means that the productive workplace that they need, is not being provided, but it’s an environment they can produce themselves thanks to the rapid consumerisation of IT, or digital transformation as it is often referred to.

A business that recognises how the digitally literate consumer is attempting to work within the organisation is on the first step to creating the modern and flexible workplace of the future.

The External Landscape

The big four, as they are being called, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple have all educated users on IT usage. From communicating, shopping or collaborating they have made IT simple. Sign up to use services, that are either free or so low cost to be negligible and a user has all the necessary computing power at their finger tips to start their own business. This means that a user expects this from the business that they work for, or contract into. It is these companies who are setting the expectation for IT usage within a business, not the businesses direct competition or their IT department.

The services designed by these organisations are so compelling, so easy to use, so ‘sticky’, that users can hardly stop using them. In fact, they become highly ‘personally’ productive. If a business could model their IT on what consumers naturally are using, then productivity would no doubt increase.

What’s Stopping You?

So why doesn’t a business recognise this, adopt these consumer based models and create the ‘live anywhere, work anywhere’ that is the basis of the workplace of the future. The workplace that attracts and retains the top talent. What stops a business learning from its users or the consumer market?

That can be a multi faceted conversation, but often it comes down to the fact that the IT strategy is focused in other areas, ones that are aligned with business needs, as opposed to how a user would like to work.

By bringing in an external third party, such as SCC, to facilitate, design and implement such a project then all aspects of user engagement can be considered. Users may want the functionality of DropBox, but IT will want the assurance that it is secure, manageable and is safely backed up. That balancing act can be achieved with the right partner.

Changing Trends

Trends in IT used to go from business into the consumer space. That trend has now been reversed. How consumers adopt technology is key to how a business must adopt it. Technology trends that IT managers may see as frivolous soon become entrenched in users behaviour, becoming part of their everyday use, setting an expectation of how they wish to work.

And the vendors are aware of this too, many of the shadow IT tools of choice that users adopt have a business offering. This keeps the user productive but also has the necessary management tools to keep IT managers content and in control.

The Future Workplace

The modern and flexible workplace of the future is already here. It’s in the palm of most peoples hands in the form of a smart phone and its associated apps. It’s being used daily by millions of users, even if it goes against a business’s published policy, and considering that it’s been given its own name, ‘Shadow IT’ legitimises its relevance.

IT Managers can ignore it, try and internally legislate against it, but if they adopted it, embraced it, then their users would feel empowered and supported. And isn’t that what IT in the workplace is supposed to do?

SCC works with businesses to create the future workplace through the effective use of all aspects of technology.

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