Although I recently took a bit of a swipe at the Apple iPad, even I would be foolish to deny the current and certainly near-future impact that the iPad and increasingly other tablet devices like the BlackBerry PlayBook and even the Motorola Xoom will have on the enterprise IT landscape.
Whether it is the potential for Apple to support the creation of restricted and IT-managed enterprise App stores, the emergence of third-party tools to facilitate the development and distribution of company created and approved apps, or the likely shift from one size fits all enterprise portals to more individually created and defined tablet or smartphone environments, there is clearly a growing trend towards more specialization, personalization, and well, I hate to say it again, consumerization of enterprise systems.
With the continuing proliferation of smartphone ownership in the US and elsewhere, and the preferred and accepted means for accessing, consuming, and creating content on these devices (and their tablet cousins), it seems apparent that any forward-thinking organization would start to strategize and develop its own response to this 'appification' of information consumption.
When an employee sends an email or makes a call to the HR support desk because they can't seem to locate a copy of the company bereavement leave policy, (leaving aside the certainly questionable decision to even have such a policy, 'two days for an Uncle' - absurd), the typical response from the HR administrator will almost certainly be one of the following:
1. All the HR policies can be found on the shared Network drive, just navigate to:
2. The bereavement policy is sub-bullet 4 of the overall Time-Off Policy, just find the PTO policy. If you don't want to page down through all 39 pages, just do a search for 'death'
3. The bereavement policy is in the Employee Handbook you were given on your first day. What's that? You started in 1997? You didn't save your copy?
4. What is your email? I can email you the latest copy of the policy. Make sure to archive it though, since the file is 8MB, it will take a big chunk out of your email storage allotment.
You get the idea. While many forward thinking organizations have rightfully moved beyond this state of affairs and deployed searchable, personalized portals for employees, even more haven't. For those organizations still struggling with file shares, dead Sharepoint installs, and mainly sending file attachments around in email; the next few years will present both a choice and a challenge.
Figure out a way to adopt yesterday's technologies to solve today's problems, or try to see past the current state, anticipate both where the market for tablets and smartphones is heading, coupled with the needs of your anticipated workforce mix (will they be more geographically diverse, more mobile, younger), and develop and deploy technologies and more accurately, build methods to support your organizations with the needed information how and where they are most apt to consume it effectively and efficiently.
In three years when that same employee rings up asking 'Where can I find the bereavement policy?', chances are the savviest HR organizations will answer:
Employee Policies? There's an app for that. It should be on the home screen of your PlayBook. Open up the app, and search for 'ludicrous', it should take you straight there.