That title is from a June 9th article in The Wall Street Journal, which examined the trend of employees going off on their own – around corporate IT – to get their jobs done. It’s an important development because of the way it’s transforming the software industry, companies’ IT departments, and the companies’ financial results.
A typical scenario is this: A group of employees is working on a document that resides on the company network behind the corporate firewall. The problem arises when those employees are on the road or working from home where they may not have access to the network. So they go around the firewall by saving the document on Dropbox – problem solved. Or is it?
The obvious issue is that the firewall is there for a reason, to protect the company and the integrity of its information. But if that protection prevents employees from doing their jobs, it becomes counter-productive. Which begs the question: Which is more important, data security or productivity?
There isn’t a clear answer. Both sides of the argument are important. But new research from PricewaterhouseCoopers adds credence to the need for companies to embrace these new mobile technologies one way or the other.
Their 5th Annual Digital IQ Survey of more than 1,100 business and technology executives found that companies that embrace new technologies were more prevalent in their “Top Performers” (TPs) group. For example, nearly twice as many TPs (32%) say they have everything [their employees] need on their mobile platforms compared to 17% of other respondents. And TPs are much more likely to invest in public cloud applications than non-TPs, by a margin of 69% to 47%.
To me, the future is clear. Using the new mobile and cloud technologies is a trend that’s gaining momentum quickly, creating excellent outcomes for work groups and their companies. Organizations that don’t adapt are being left behind as illustrated by PwC’s study. But even managers who agree with this may be in a quandary due to concerns about controlling company information. What those managers need to realize is that the information is out of their control anyway, and really has been for years. After all, employees have been emailing documents outside of the company to their home computers, associates and personal email accounts for over 20 years.
Clear policies on sharing and moving company information are a big part of the solution, for example as outlined in this Huffington Post article. Managers have been through all of this all before, as the introductions of the telephone, fax machine, personal computer and email all presented similar concerns. But the important thing to remember is they also created huge productivity gains and are now part of our workplace fabric.