Popular among technologically minded companies is a workplace development that directly involves iPhones and other mobile devices: BYOD (bring your own device). The advantages of BYOD are relatively obvious in that they allow employees to work flexibly and on-the-move using their own personal devices. However, there is a dark side to BYOD when it comes to efficiency with companies often viewing this trend as a way of giving employees the ability to increase their working hours and improve their productivity when out of the office, on the road or at home.
In reality, the most common devices used in BYOD are ill-equipped for the business environment, suffering from poor functionality for corporate activities and low compatibility with office systems. Although not always deemed so cost effective, company run schemes that provide employees with devices specifically designed to integrate with the business IT infrastructure can provide most of the benefits associated with BYOD, but with far better results.
Taking this to the next level, companies are beginning to look at ways of incorporating the benefits of an intranet into the mobile device arena. By doing so, questions around compatibility and information sharing are beginning to find answers. A future where mobility doesn’t automatically translate to reduced efficiency is on the horizon, but it is not yet the IT environment of today. This is something that companies must be careful to remember, rather than allowing themselves to get carried away with the spectacle of a mobile, flexible, state-of-the-art, smart workforce.
If companies were to distil the phrase ‘smart workforce’ to its simplest meaning it would be ‘the ability to easily and quickly share information within a team’. Of course, the reality is far less simple, but keeping that principle in mind and focusing on it as a business target will result in more intelligent and intuitive companies.
One of the simplest ways to create an atmosphere that facilitates and encourages information fluidity is through an intranet. We are seeing more and more demand within firms for an intranet type system geared towards giving people the chance to share their ideas with colleagues outside of their direct team or department. These systems help companies become smarter, by capitalising on the individual intelligence of every employee, rather than pigeon-holing the ‘creative types’ and ‘numbers guys’.
For example, marketing may find that someone from the finance team actually has a genius idea when it comes to promoting a new campaign – which has nothing to do with their day job. Empowering the employee voice in this way means that employers can get real-time insight from areas of the business that may otherwise have been ignored. The best idea can often come from the most unlikely source.
Taking it one step further, an extension of simply allowing employees to share information and facilitating the process is to give them strong incentives to do so. This is where the gamification of corporate technology, in line with a company’s social and mobile strategy, can go even further towards encouraging participation from all areas of the business. When used correctly, gamification can animate even the most tedious of tasks and can be extremely effective in motivating employees towards a positive outcome.
There are a host of technologies and techniques that companies have at their disposal to get the most out of their diverse workforces and allow them to share the information, expertise and experience. On a corporate scale, it isn’t always easy to achieve this, but the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts and all companies should be striving towards this goal.
Richard Acreman is CEO of technology services company WM360.
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