Consumerization of IT: the pressure is on


Don’t end up in the dead end where your business tech is outstripped by that in your employees’ pockets. Get ahead, writes Heather MacNeill

The technologies we use to power our businesses will never stop evolving. It will be how we adapt to these constant changes that will keep us relevant in the eyes of our employees and customers. Over the last 15 years, it’s been interesting to watch the technological shift that is taking place right in front of our eyes. The buzz term for this shift is ‘consumerization of IT’.

For decades, decisions on what systems and technologies to adopt were made first by businesses, before the technologies were simplified and made available to everyday consumers. However, as consumerization of IT continues to take shape, employees expect to have access to the same types of easy-to-use, consumer-like technologies in the workplace. Alongside employee demands, there is wider market pressure for businesses to stay ahead of trends. Yet making the jump toward modernization isn’t always easy.

Most organizations have used the same monolithic enterprise resource-planning systems (ERPs) since the 1990s. Learning management systems (LMS) were implemented during this period as well. Systems like the LMS and ERPs were huge investments in both time (installations taking 12-18 months), and money. Adopting modern technologies and resources means making additional investments to implement and update technologies, and to retrain employees. However, it’s up to business leaders to adapt, or risk losing talent to more ‘hip’ organizations.

Modern technology for the modern-day learner

Employees rarely have time to sit at their desks and consume learning material during the workday, yet 87% of Millennial employees want to see clear pathways for growth, while being provided instant access to professional development resources. Legacy learning management systems simply don’t meet these demands, where modern learning platforms provide ample opportunity for employees to learn when it is convenient for them.

Convenience isn’t the only aspect that makes emerging learning technologies so appealing. Modern solutions are faster, more intuitive, mobile and secure – and are easy to integrate with other internal platforms and systems. Streamlining the learning experience, increasing avenues for collaboration, and providing employees with flexibility to learn remotely strengthens productivity and motivation for employees to excel in the workplace.

Making the switch

The more businesses adopt modern technologies, the more successful and nimble they will be in the long run. If cost is the hold-up, keep in mind that many modern cloud-based solutions can integrate with systems that are already installed – like a traditional LMS, for example. Additionally, maintenance of cloud-based platforms comes at a fraction of the cost when compared to legacy systems, and adopters will be giving employees what they want. Happy employees means lower attrition rates. All of this considered, the best approach to take when analyzing the right solutions for your organization is to research which platforms are all-encompassing and easy to manage internally.

Going back to learning technology, we know employees demand continuous learning opportunities, but they also learn more effectively in social and informal environments (70% of knowledge is retained in this way). Additionally, 57% of people prefer to access learning materials on the go. So, ideally, companies should seek a modern and mobile learning platform that provides all the necessary and preferred learning functionalities. These include:

  1. Access to the highest-quality of learning materials (books, videos, journals and other resources) at any time, from any location
  2. The ability to collaborate using modern tools that simplify the sharing of content, resources, feedback and ideas
  3. Access to other professionals – both colleagues and industry experts – in an open network, to support informal and social learning

The key to pinpointing the right solutions for your business, as the consumerization of IT continues to build momentum, is listening to your employees and tailoring your solutions to fit their preferences. Just make sure the technologies align with your business, as well. You can never go wrong with tools that provide flexibility and increased opportunities for collaboration.


Heather MacNeill is head of communications for BlueBottleBiz – the first collaborative learning platform for business professionals