The people who ran the IT department those days came out of a corporate, hierarchical structure that owed much to the way companies had been run since the 1940s. It was only in the late ‘70s and beyond that corporates began to put more emphasis on individual initiative and freedom, and then on a corporate level in the ‘80s, as enormous organizations flattened out their career structures and had to change dramatically to survive.
Then, along came a company that created a great business selling cloud-based sales force automation software directly to business executives and thereby bypassing the IT department. This was only five years ago, but the world had already moved forward.
As a result of outsourcing, corporate reliance on management gurus such as W. Edwards Deming, the use of lean management techniques and the wholesale use of business process engineering, the 1990s saw corporates introducing additional part-time and contract staff and replacing routine work with automated software offshore workers and temporary labor.
This has resulted in corporate workers who very often work from home using their own PCs, smart phones, laptops and tablet computers with their own individual likes and desires for hardware and software as well as the difficult task of IT departments being able to impose control over whatever hardware or software is used.
The very flexibility that corporate management demanded of its workforce has bounced back as the same workforce demanded flexible methods of working. BYOD is, in fact, just the beginning of a process that will require IT departments to work closely with staff regarding the choice of tools that they use.
The increase of workers adopting social media tools outside of work has also changed the game forever. Social media was bound to have an effect on the enterprise; therefore careful analysis of the rise of social media should have alerted executives to its growth and its likely effects upon the enterprise.
If an enterprise did not see BYOD coming it had better take a look at what else might be coming because it needs to be prepared in identifying emerging trends instead of being surprised when they become reality.
Enterprises should have holistic methodologies for spotting trends. This has to start from the top and include the board of directors. Trend spotting is difficult, but it is essential for the modern enterprise to thrive. To identify a trend you have to analyse your needs using a repeatable process encompassing two parts.
Within the enterprise, the first part is cultural, looking at what your staff is doing in and out of the enterprise, and the second is technological—doing the same but analysing it in conjunction with what is happening in society as a whole.
Enterprises that have rich cultural backgrounds, such as the big PC companies, the big search engine companies and the big online outlets, tend to be the winners in a big way. These companies deliberately cultivate internal cultures that strengthen staff loyalty, innovation and discussion. Therefore, they are not taken by surprise when staff do something ”unexpected”—in fact, because they anticipated it, they can harness this knowledge. This is what all organisations should be doing.