If you’ve ever wondered what the next cool technology to storm the workplace is going to be, take a look what people are using in their personal lives. In case you haven’t noticed, the hottest new technologies usually start off in the consumer space and find their way to the office.
That is a complete reversal of the way many in IT think things work. Many IT people believe that corporations made the decisions of what technology tools you have at work, and you don’t have a choice. But the reality is that as people’s work styles have changed, they’ve brought new technologies into the workplace themselves. And companies have realized they need to lighten up, literally.
Consider office technology in the early 2000s. Most of it was awkward, heavy, difficult to use and clunky: desktop computers, big CRT monitors, and wired phones. You practically had to do backflips to check email from home, and transferring calls on the desk phone was risky business.
But then companies like Apple started making really cool consumer products (MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads) with attractive interfaces and intuitive features. Workers became used to the slick, agile technology in their everyday lives and started expecting the same at work.
Around 2009, the term BYOD (bring your own device) was tossed around as enterprises began allowing employees to use their own laptops, tablets, and smartphones to access company data—or to make calls. To be productive, enterprises knew they had to accommodate these new tools.
This consumerization of IT extends to apps as well. Examples are everywhere: blogs, the use of LinkedIn for recruiting, instant messaging, Skype, Twitter—all of these tools gained prominence in the consumer world before being adopted by the enterprise.
To accommodate workers who want to use their own devices and apps to innovate, collaborate and work from wherever, smart companies are moving their IT to the cloud.
A great example is Motorola Solutions. To make life easier for its increasingly mobile workforce, in 2015, the Fortune 500 tech giant transitioned all of its 22,000 employees globally to Google for Work—in one day, literally.
Now Motorola is putting its phone system in the cloud, too, so its workers can make business calls conveniently on their own devices. Already, the tech giant has moved its office in Plantation, FL and its headquarters in Schaumburg, IL to Dialpad. And gradually, it’s transitioning all of its other offices worldwide to the new phone system as well.
Consumerization is here to stay. Driving the trend are the newest members of our workforce, millennials who cut their baby teeth on iMacs, if not iPads. So if you want to attract the next generation of workers—or get ready to support your workforce tomorrow—take a look at what people are bringing to work today.