The widespread use of consumer technologies in the enterprise are having a sweeping impact on traditional ways of doing business and the results companies can achieve. 
This is one of the findings from an Avanade survey of almost 600 C-level executives and decision-makers in 19 countries.
Traditionally, technology use at work has been dictated by business requirements. Executives authorised technology purchases based on corporate needs and objectives.
For example, new regulations led to e-mail archiving systems and bigger customer rosters led to centralised customer relationship management (CRM) systems. More recently, this dynamic has shifted from enterprise-driven to employee-driven technologies, especially in the area of mobile devices and consumer technologies.
Rather than shut out mobile and consumer technologies, Avanade’s survey shows companies are not only embracing these technologies in the workplace, they’re enabling them.
More than six in 10 of the global companies (61%) report the majority of their employees now use personal computing devices in the workplace. South Africa mimics these findings at 60% adoption rate.
More than half (54%) report the majority of their employees use smartphones for basic work tasks such as reading e-mail, online documents and calendar invitations – a similar trend locally at 55%.
One-third (33%) report the majority of their employees use tablets for basic work tasks with South Africa lagging behind with only 15% penetration.
More surprisingly, the exact same number of respondents – 33% globally and 15% locally – report the majority of their employees are using tablets for advanced business purposes such as CRM, project management, content creation and data analysis.
The most progressive companies that are redesigning how work gets done are building entirely new business processes around these trends to reap new benefits. Avanade calls this “work redesigned”.
According to Avanade’s research, more than 7 out of 10 (71%) companies surveyed have changed at least one business process – including processes in IT management, sales and marketing, HR and customer services – in an effort to accommodate emerging work trends including the use of mobile and consumer technologies. South Africa shows an impressive 85% of companies embracing this change.
Notably, 20% of companies have changed four or more business processes to capitalise on the rise of mobility and consumer technologies at work. Once again South Africa impresses with 41% companies making change to take advantage of this trend.
These same progressive companies – businesses that have embraced emerging mobile and consumer technologies and have established progressive policies and business processes to support them – are seeing measurable impact and positive results on profitability, product development and employee satisfaction.
More specifically Avanade’s research reveals these companies are reporting:
* Stronger sales – companies are deriving greater value from collaboration technologies. They are 73% more likely to report improved sales and new customer acquisition through the use of their collaboration tools than other companies.
* Increased profits – companies that have adopted emerging mobile and consumer technologies are 54% more likely to report increased profits than businesses not leveraging these technologies, policies and processes.
* Greater agility – similarly, those same companies are 58% more likely to report improvement in bringing products and services to market; and
* Improved employee satisfaction – these companies are 37% more likely to report improved employee satisfaction. They also report a greater emphasis on creativity and greater ability to solve problems.
“The nature of work and how business gets done is going through a transformation. Consumer technologies in the workplace are a significant catalyst for this transformation,” says Rudi Greyling, chief technology officer and innovation lead at Avanade South Africa.
“Executives are capitalising on the opportunity these technologies offer by adjusting business processes and updating policies with measurable results in areas such as customer service, profitable growth, happier employees and bringing new products and services to market faster.”
Avanade’s research also uncovered a significant gap in views between business leaders and IT regarding the role of mobile and consumer technologies in the enterprise. The disconnect between C-level executives and their IT staff may be the biggest factor limiting more widespread redesign of business processes enabled by mobile and consumer technologies.
Security is often a chief concern with new technology adoption. However, security concerns reveal a disconnect between IT decision makers and business executives.
* Seventy-one percent of C-level executives believed the rest of the company could accomplish work tasks outside of the office walls – 39% higher than the rate of IT staff and business unit leaders who reported the same.
* IT decision makers are focused on minimising potential risks (55%) with personal computing technologies at work. However, the C-suite’s primary concern is capitalising on the potential benefits (56%) these employee-owned devices can bring to the enterprise.
Successful companies are bridging these two views to achieve the best results.
“This disconnect is not uncommon – executives see opportunities with new technologies while IT seeks to protect the company’s assets,” says Greyling. “Our experience shows us that the type of transformation these technologies can deliver must start with a close partnership between business and IT leadership.”