The Consumerization of the Workforce

In just over a week I will be giving another keynote to a group of business leaders on the Consumerization of IT.  It is a popular topic many businesses (especially their IT departments) are looking at and trying to understand.

Where does it come from?

Although not meant to be an exhaustive explanation, there are two main drivers for this movement.

  1. The experience the employee has in their personal life with IT tools trumps what their employer is willing to provide.  Thus, they are pushing the company to provide the same or similar.
  2. Tools have evolved to a degree that many can be created by someone with only minimal technical skills.  Much of what they create can rival what the company provides.

The Consumerization of the Workforce

But the ramifications don’t stop there.  It is not only a technical issue, but also a life/work issue.  We see just about all departments and even the structure of the modern business radically changing because of the attitudes and beliefs of the employee.

Actually, I lie.  

What we really see is the increasing pressure from the employee to change and the resistance from the organization to make those changes.

I lie again.

Because the business is made up of people, so who are the ones resisting change?  While it is different in each organization, it can be typically traced to those who perceive that they will lose something – usually power and/or status – for which they have worked so hard to achieve – even if it might be a better solution overall.

So, really, there are the few that are willing and bold enough to buck the trends, look past the ineffective ways of governing a business, and lobby for change.

What Change?

It is true – these are just principles.  But the actions that come from these are varied and plentiful in example.  From the employee who works when and where she wants and is judged on her output, to the employee who is given the authority to make decisions in situations that would make most companies squirm.  More and more the employee is willing to hack the business to get work done better, faster, smarter, cheaper.

We will see more and more of the consumerization of the workforce happen over the coming years.

So the real questions are: How will new employee attitudes, beliefs and values change your work?  And will you be willing to explore those changes?