How IT leaders can empower a digital-savvy workforce

Giving employees the power to create bespoke technology solutions allows for greater workflow successes, and offers a more integrated employee experience.

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At the top of this year’s priorities, CIOs and IT leaders should support hybrid working and drive digital, cross-functional collaboration. With a workforce that’s been highly productive over the last year while working remotely, digitally-savvy employees are ready to take their engagement to an even higher level of innovation, cooperation, and effectiveness.

Many of these employees are savvy enough to develop technical capabilities, and they are expecting CIOs and IT leaders to empower them with tools, processes, and support to develop solutions.

Build versus buy? There’s a third option in no-code solutions    

For CIOs and IT leaders, empowering a digitally savvy workforce requires new ways of thinking about how IT partners with employees on developing and supporting technology solutions. 

We used to think about developing solutions with only these two options:

  • Building solutions to address business challenges
  • Buying and configuring enterprise apps and SaaS to address business pain points

Building solutions often require specialized development skill sets, technical knowledge, and support from IT that can slow the pace of innovation. On the other hand, buying too many SaaS solutions can lead to complex architectures, complex integration work, and greater support costs.

Organizations need a third option, which comes in the form of no-code solutions.

When building apps is too slow or SaaS solutions don’t meet essential requirements, empowering the workforce to develop lightweight, integrated, and secure applications can be a viable way to unlock innovation. In addition, by investing in a no-code platform, IT leaders have the opportunity to deliver capabilities, enable innovations at the edge of the organization, ensure proper governance and controls, and improve visibility into work.    

Empowering employees to develop their workflows

Empowering employees in developing technology solutions can take on many forms.

  • Digital marketers track assets like stock photos, fonts, and sound clips in a lightweight, fit-for-purpose digital asset management tool.
  • Building facilities track the maintenance schedules and the work performed, from cleaning windows to having elevators inspected.
  • Human resources creates forms to survey employees during onboarding and offboarding experiences, and facilitate equipment delivery and returns.
  • IT establishes a database of training classes taken by employees and their reviews which help guide others on learning opportunities.
  • Finance builds a dashboard to share employee KPIs on cost reduction programs and meeting compliance requirements.

These are all very common examples where having an application improves workflow and employee experiences, but the business need may not warrant IT’s attention. So instead of shopping for SaaS point solutions, IT can train and empower employees to build these applications.

By enabling digital-savvy employees to build applications quickly, CIOs and IT leaders can help transform the culture.

Instead of IT prescribing solutions or departments procuring SaaS without IT’s involvement, empowering selected employees to build no-code applications establishes a growing number of digital ambassadors across the organization. These ambassadors are more likely to know the business need, use terms and language understood by end-users, develop an appropriate workflow, and persuade their peers to modernize a business process.

And why is this important? Getting more people and departments to challenge their status quo and self-serve technology solutions is key to driving digital transformation.

This post is brought to you by Smartsheet and IDG. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Smartsheet.

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