How to Adopt Consumer Tech for Efficiency

CIOs open the gates to consumer devices in pursuit of widespread productivity

Facilitate Widespread Adoption

Sam Coursen, Freescale Semiconductor

CIOs should be preparing for consumer technology as the future of a more productive workplace. Users will bring their own devices to work just like they drive their own cars. Everyone has what they feel will make them the most productive. For this mass customization environment, you need three things: capable end-user devices, cloud computing and high-speed networking. When you have all of this in widespread adoption, not only can workers better customize their environment to the way they work best, but IT can be also more flexible and supply capabilities more efficiently. One example is better collaboration technologies, such as real-time conferencing with voice, video, and data.

At Freescale, people in some roles qualify for company-provided devices. For example, salespeople are provided BlackBerrys or other mobile devices. But I am fully embracing other employees using personal devices for work. As long as security concerns are handled, we will bend over backward to interface to the devices our end users choose. The ability to connect to e-mail and other corporate applications means employees no longer have to draw a hard line between their private and work lives. It seems silly to me to declare that employees can’t use their own devices at the office if that will actually improve employee satisfaction, and in turn improve their work output.

Use Them as a Catalyst for Process Change

David Lehn, Noodles & Company

I really believe that the iPad will be a game changer for our more than 200 restaurants. Our area managers use a very manual process when they make the rounds of restaurants to review operations—carrying a clipboard, taking notes by hand and then transcribing data into a spreadsheet. We built an iPad application that will streamline all of these tasks, provide instant reporting functionality, and greatly improve efficiencies and turnaround time. A process that takes days—even weeks, when we get busy—will be completed the moment an area manager hits the save button. We can immediately start to focus on problem areas rather than on simply compiling the data.

Today in our restaurants, we have only one computer in the back, and staff members have to take turns or huddle around it in a small group. Now, we are trying out the iPad in select sites to supplement employee training and onboarding by allowing new staff to sit in the dining room between shifts to watch videos of food preparation techniques, complete HR paperwork, or take tests. I’m meeting with departments such as HR and operations to brainstorm additional ways to use consumer tech to streamline internal processes.

Take Ownership of Innovation and Adoption

Darren Dworkin, Cedars Sinai Medical Center

I’ve found that the trick to setting consumer-tech policies, especially in the healthcare industry, is to understand why people are asking for these devices. That is, instead of saying, “Do not use this type of mobile phone,” or, “Don’t use this social media tool,” you should be asking, “How can we make that work and still meet the goals behind the existing usage policies, such as protecting confidential patient data?” For example, once we addressed data protection, texting went from being a concern to a productivity tool overnight. When it came to the iPhone, we embraced it as a standard the week after it was introduced. More than 50 percent of our staff started to use the device to access corporate e-mail and applications.

I believe that all IT leaders must own consumer technology innovation and adoption. If we don’t, someone else in the organization will look to own it. I do encounter internal resistance to consumer technology from the more traditional thinkers within my IT team. My message to them is that their role in the business is to drive technology innovation. I also struggle with being agile enough to react to the consumer-tech-release road map. My traditional vendors, such as Dell, follow a standard time line. I know their products and road map for the next few years and can plan accordingly. In contrast, Apple is very secretive. We may be interested in their next consumer product, but we don’t even know what it is. I look for staff with skill sets that can adapt quickly to this new world and make it work for Cedars Sinai.


This story, "How to Adopt Consumer Tech for Efficiency" was originally published by CIO Executive Council.


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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