Why your IT department should aim to be 'Switzerland'
Thinking of your IT department as a neutral zone is the essential attitude to enabling the 'bring your own' trend
Short of time?
There’s one essential characteristic that will define the companies of the future: flexibility. Traditional internal infrastructure is becoming less and less effective as technology and the workforce change one another.
In this new landscape, there are fewer rules and fewer tried-and-true methods for running a business. Instead, companies are forced to find innovative solutions to serve customers, develop products and, most importantly, recruit top talent.
This talent is hard to come by, and they play by their own rules. We’ve already seen BYOD become a common practice across companies: allowing individuals to work in a space they’re familiar with.
And, while it’s uncommon for companies to adjust to accommodate an employee, doing so can actually be a good thing. Employees feel most empowered to succeed when they’re able to use the tools their confident using.
So what’s next? BYOS: bring your own software. You have to assume that, if they’re using their own devices, they’re probably using their own software, too. Hubspot, for example, shared in a webinar this year that, after an audit of their entire IT infrastructure, they found 2,900 different software applications or infrastructure endpoints within their company.
While it can be a tough idea to swallow, the important thing to remember is these outside software/app choices are being used by your employees to the benefit—not the detriment—of your company.
Here’s the why and the how around getting your team thinking positively about BYOS.
Why: BYOS attracts top talent
In the past, it was common practice for employees to stay with a company for their entire career—starting at entry level and developing for 30-odd years. Today’s workforce is much more mobile: the average employee will stay at a single job for less than 3 years.
Transitioning from one post to the next is a time-intensive process: learning a new commute, getting to know your new team, falling into a new routine. So why are companies challenging these new employees to learn an entirely new software system as well?
Companies that are successfully attracting top talent are able to accommodate the way that talent likes to work - whether that’s bringing in new software, adopting a new cloud provider, or enabling other new technology throughout their teams.
BYOS is about giving employees the ability to choose the software that works best for them so they can continue to perform at the highest level. While allowing employees to make major decisions about technology is a far cry from the traditional approach to IT, it’s a necessary change. This new strategy empowers tech/IT leaders to make these decisions for themselves and ultimately serve the company better as a whole.
How? Think of your IT department as 'Switzerland.'
Or, in other words, the neutral party. Your IT department should make interoperability its number one priority: allowing the company to attract top employees and, in turn, enabling those employees to do excellent work for their company.
In general, employee freedom does not top the IT priority list. With myriad concerns - from cost to collaboration to security - it may seem more prudent to standardise onto one platform across your company.
> See also: Six tips for building a 2015-proof BYOD policy
But the major goal of IT shouldn’t be about finding one solution, it should be about finding the best solution. And what better way to do that than crowdsource from your own best and brightest? Thus this 'Switzerland' approach to IT actually makes it easier for your employees to find ways to approach projects and problem-solve.
That said, it’s important to monitor the performance of outsourced SaaS players by keeping tabs on the availability, security and speed of infrastructure behind these platforms.
Overall, the companies that will win in culture, attracting talent, and communicating with one another are those that will win in the future of the business world - and BYOS is one of the core characteristics of the future workplace.
Already, there are a plethora of options available to individuals via SaaS subscription models and the cloud. The notion of IT as a tech 'Switzerland' will be an essential attitude as the bring-your-own trend continues to take hold.