The Rise of the Business Consumer Means IT Must Adapt

News Article - Tuesday, 29 July 2014 10:49

By: Kerry Butters Category: Connectivity

According to Gartner, Inc., IT leaders now have an unprecedented opportunity to help shape the working environment of a company due to the rise in the ‘business consumer’. Whilst once business and consumer technologies tended to be separate, these days people tend to take work home with them and consumer devices are increasingly encroaching on the workplace.

"Starting with the rise of PCs and the internet era, users have a greater influence on IT strategy and we are currently witnessing the rise of what Gartner calls the "business consumer" — an employee for whom business activities are one part of a wider lifestyle," said Matthew Cain , research vice president at Gartner.

"Individuals do not stop being consumers when they go to work. Business consumers often make more consumer-like choices in their workplace computing tools and styles to increase efficiency."

This can make for a more flexible working environment and enable a better distribution of expertise around the company, whether that be confined to a single geographic location or several. IT leaders should focus their efforts on creating a "socially active workplace” which can easily access knowledge both inside the organisation and externally.

In order to be successful and a true digital workplace, business consumers can access digital work styles such as crowdsourcing, social media and job sharing, for example. IT leaders should harness the "digital literacy of employees” by promoting the sharing of information and by fostering a more "results-orientated work environment”.

This means that tactics designed to boost employee engagement should be utilised, as should the encouragement of flexible working, collaborative work and the increase of information volume and flow from partners and customers.

"The substantial gap between the business computing environment and the consumer computing environment is traditionally explained by reasons such as culture, security and compliance," said Mr. Cain.

"However, those assumptions must be re-examined. For many organizations, the partial or wholesale embracing of a consumer style of computing for business purposes will be beneficial and, in some cases, transformational. Considering a digital workplace helps organizations determine if and how rapidly they should embrace consumer-style computing trends."

Research from the analysts suggests that the response by organisations to consumerisation is spotty. Whilst there has been a lot of movement in schemes such as BYOD, these are often in isolation and do little to impact employee communities.

Mr. Cain goes on to say that it’s inevitable that business will have "to embrace” consumer trends at some point and at the moment, most organisations sit somewhere in the middle of two extremes – those that have already embraced it and those whom it may take up to a decade to respond to change.

"At a minimum, IT organizations need to be working with business and human resources leaders to identify workplace changes that will affect the business, and determine if a response is warranted," Mr. Cain added.

More information on the research can be found in the report Create a Digital Workplace to Respond to Critical Changes in the Workforce . Analysts will also discuss the findings further at an upcoming summit taking place in London on September 15 – 16: Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit 2014 .

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