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Why it makes sense to involve teams in workplace technology selection

By Christian Lucarelli | |5 minute read

The way business technology is selected and deployed has undergone some interesting changes in recent years as organisations come to terms with the new world of work.

Rather than being selected by the IT department with little consultation with users, staff are increasingly being given more say and more power in what they use to support their day-to-day work activity.

When you think about it, it makes sense for the users of workplace technology to have this input, as they are the ones who directly feel the impact of decisions. However, historically, this may not have happened. Workplace suites and devices were either chosen for them, or they were given a choice of a handful of corporate-approved options, often designed to keep a lid on the support overhead for IT.


A shift in the dynamics

This shift in power dynamics is particularly noticeable in industries where skills shortages and access to talent are an overriding concern. In these sectors, it is becoming more common for people to be given a freer choice over the workplace technology they use.

Recent research by Bain & Co found more than 80 per cent of employees see the use of modern tools and methodologies as a strong draw when considering their future employer. Similar results are seen in other surveys where 57 per cent of unsatisfied employees say their current software makes them less productive.

Clearly, it’s better for organisations to be able to attract and retain good talent rather than dictating a preferred development environment, language, tool or device. This realisation is starting to become more widespread.

Awareness of options

Increasingly, people in business units want to be aware of what technology exists that can be put to work, solving some of their most pressing business challenges. Part of the value they bring to the unit is knowing what tools exist and how to use them, and that comes from a greater due diligence on their part to understand the application landscape.

It also allows them to become more of a voice for – and enabler of – change. In the context of the continuous digital transformation mindset that now exists in many organisations, this is a valuable asset and skill set.

At the moment, the hunger for knowledge and understanding is highest when it comes to automation and intelligence tools. These are big focus areas in many business functions and tend to work hand in glove.

Intelligence is an important aid to automation. In order to improve a process, one must first understand it, and a certain level of intelligence is required to do that.

Intelligence is also quickly becoming a valuable technology in its own right. As such, many functional business users want to understand, both to get a better sense of how to create efficiency and unlock latent value in their immediate areas.

Experimentation can help

Many organisations are now also starting to create new internal experimentation and pilot structures that cater for this increased appetite by employees to be more actively involved in workplace technology selection.

These structures take various names, such as tech lounges, labs, and innovation hubs; however, they tend to have the same purpose. This is to offer a physical space where people can come face to face with new and emerging technologies, experiment and learn in a safe space, and rate them for future use.

The intent is not to create a “free-for-all” approach to the use of workplace technology but rather to offer choice with some overriding governance and a deference to existing security and procurement rules.

The best scenario is to have a leader either sponsor or drive the creation of these community-like experimentation spaces, as this resolves one of the biggest barriers to change from the outset.

Users will also be able to gain a better understanding of the total cost of the technologies they choose. If presented with a set budget, they will be able to mix and match and end up with a solution that best matches their needs.

It’s clear that involving staff in the selection and deployment of workplace technologies can deliver some significant benefits for organisations. By giving them the opportunity to explore options and make informed decisions, the long-term impact on staff buy-in and overall productivity will be positive.


By Christian Lucarelli, vice-president, Asia-Pacific region, Nintex