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    « Failure and Fun | Main | Can Compliance be Strategic? »
    Monday
    Nov022009

    BYOT - Bring Your own Technology

    Spent some time Sunday morning (the extra hour of 'sleep' we got in the US), reading some excerpts from a book titled 'The Tower and the Cloud',  Chapter One : 'The Gathering Cloud: Is this the End of the Middle' by Richard Katz.

    The book is an examination of the technological changes and forces at work that will dramatically impact and inevitably alter the structure and delivery of higher education in the US and worldwide. One of the Flickr - prestamost interesting observations from the first chapter concerns the how the academic institution will be effected by the increasingly technical acumen demonstrated by its incoming students:

    As the explosion of content continues along with the increasing maturity and availability of web-based academic services and applications, tomorrow’s students will arrive on campus with their own IT architectures and service arrangements. These students—and tomorrow’s faculty—will have little use for or patience with college or university offerings that under perform or force them to lose precious connections to people and processes that they have accumulated since childhood.

    This idea has certainly been discussed and observed in the workplace or professional context as well. How does the organization react when new employees (typically Millennial or Gen Y age) enter the workforce carrying with them (and expecting to leverage) different, and many times superior technical capabilities than the organization has deployed?

    Whether it is Gmail with its huge storage capacity, external social networks for connection and information sharing with their personal communities, cloud based file storage and collaboration services, or free web-conferencing and conference calling on demand, or event the latest in slick technology the new (and existing) employee has the ability, and perhaps the expectation that they can and should be able to leverage these capabilities in the workplace.

    In 'The Tower and the Cloud', Katz suggest these factors (and several others) will force a fundamental shift in the traditional role of the university as the 'center' of learning, research, and access to technology. Since information access, computing power, and ability for experts to connect directly with students (and potential students) without the need for the physical university as a kind of broker the university will be forced to adapt to this reality, and evolve in order to survive.

    In the corporate world, while it does seem that such dramatic changes are less likely (at least not as quickly), there are certainly some implications.  In an environment where employees (especially younger ones) move much more frequently from one firm to another, does it still make sense to spend the first 'X' days/weeks/months teaching these employees all about your unique and in many cases proprietary systems? Or would that time and effort be better spent building bridges from these internal systems to the ones that employees are already familiar with and have already adopted?

    Technical capability, access to information, employees understanding and leveraging of networks, cloud capability and new and better solutions for collaboration all are advancing faster than most organizations ability to keep up.  Finding the correct balance between forcing employees back inside the corporate 'technology box' and leveraging the tools and capabilities they bring with them is one of the most important challenges for organizations today.

    The ones that strike the correct mix will be in far stronger position than the ones that don't.

     

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    Reader Comments (10)

    Great post, Steve. I like how this parallels your post on integrating an employee's brand with the company brand, i.e. in a world where the individual is moving around more frequently and bringing with them a lot of things they built up that could either challenge or benefit an organization's precepts and institutions, what's the best reaction?

    November 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMark Bennett

    I disagree, strongly. There is little consistency in the computer skills college and high school students are acquiring. If you try to design HR practices to anticipate their varied expertises coming in, you're still hitting a moving target. You are simply shifting costs from wasted human resources to wasted technical resources. And I'm not convinced that's ultimately any better.

    November 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRichard N. Landers

    @Mark - Thanks, it is really part of the same theme I agree. Brand, experience, preferred methods of working and interacting with technology seem all related and do present challenges for academia and corporations. I think the institutions that embrace this new reality and try to adapt to it (or at least acknowledge it) will be in a better competitive position.

    @Richard - I think that you are correct that skills and experience of new entrants to the workforce do vary, but that impacts the organization either way. My point was more about designing systems and processes that are more flexible, and adaptable and not always built in an organizational box. Thanks for reading and I appreciate your point of view.

    November 2, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    Steve, this is another post that I wish I had been able to write. Perhaps the solution to content for my own blog is just to have you write it. Could we work out a bulk rate? What's most interesting to me is that while we can use smart phones on different cellular networks to call each other, every one of them has a different format for storing those phone numbers etc. that make moving data around a complete nightmare, let along moving my 12+ years of Eudora email files to gmail.com If we're going to encourage/support/allow everyone to bring to the workplace whatever technology they're used to using and prefer to keep, even as all of it is changing at the speed of Twitter, we just have to have much better standards and fast for everything from data exchange to application UIs. Otherwise the Tower of Babel awaits, and you know how that story ended.

    November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi Bloom

    Naomi - thanks so much for the kind words, they are much appreciates. You are dead right about interoperability and standards being a significant issue in this area. The smart phone analogy is a good one. What we need to see emerge is the 'smart' enterprise technology for ERP, HRIS, etc. One that can seamlessly operate across platforms and devices while still maintaining the robust and powerful capabilities needed to actually run the business. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

    November 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    Steve, this reminds me of the announcement that LA will be using Google and not Microsoft apps. Huge savings, ease of use, cloud storage, etc. You're right - we'll be seeing more in the near future. This all makes corporate IT security and policies even more critical. Nice post!

    November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Keeffer

    Thanks Marsha! The push towards more consumer-based and more ubiquitous application environments seems like it will get more and more momentum. Thanks very much for the comment and for reading.

    November 12, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    I read your post and I felt very curious about the "The Tower and the Cloud" book, so I purchased it online (not everything is online: viagra online , food online, clothes online...) and I have to say the book is very impressive and gives conclusions that you would never imagine! It opened my eyes!

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