Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has irrevocably changed the workplace. Inviting employees to use their own hardware has given them a chance to use a device they have good knowledge of to work more efficiently and independently compared to clunky, often outdated office computer systems.
Now, in the era of the ‘always on’ working environment - brought on by mass ownership of smartphones and tablets - employers are beckoning a new trend, inviting employees to bring their own apps (BYOA).
As a CEO in the app industry, I am of course heavily invested in the success of this phenomenon. However, I am also acutely aware that businesses must be careful not to become victims of their own ‘BYO’ transformation as a result of burgeoning numbers of apps coming into the workplace.
Traditionally, new business applications would be trialled, selected and then rolled out company-wide, usually led by the IT department and the main corporate users.
This is very different with BYOA, where apps gain uptake organically within the company without any coordinated, centralized decision-making and deployment – at least not in the early stages. Too many users diffused over too many applications risks creating a disjointed ecosystem that erects as many new barriers as it aim to get rid of.
I view productivity apps a bit like I see members of a team: they have specialisations, and working independently, can execute work within those specialisations very efficiently. However, they also have to work together on projects to achieve results.
Teams need to manage the risk of miscommunication, which in an era of exponential app growth undoubtedly creates fragmentation among the workforce and presents challenges for productivity. By optimizing a set of company specific apps, these issues are erased as employees are able to communicate and work together in real time on the same platform or set of platforms. This can be done through team consensus, management appointed apps or through paying attention to your more experimental employees who may have found a hidden gem that will give their team or whole company ‘the edge’.
The challenge for the business is therefore to streamline the number of apps used within a department or the organisation as a whole, and ideally standardise or bring them together under a singular user interface. By working from a central ‘hub’, for example, workers will be able to share documents, plan meetings and even chat with colleagues.
Ultimately, the goal of many new software services in the work management category is to grow virally within a company. That means a small team of users will sign up for a specific app, and over time, the demonstrated value will help the user base grow until IT takes notice and standardises the software.
Understandably, the idea of an unvetted app growing in use amongst their enterprise users is concerning to the C-suite at large, due to the costs and efficiencies at stake. However, I believe that part of the app selection process should focus on making sure apps can integrate, share, and talk to each other in a way that scales with usage.
The effects of the BYOA movement has meant that enterprise IT must keep up with the growth curve, allowing app users to integrate their preferred tools into one united interface.
By focusing on integrating apps into the broader context of work management, organisations can foster both productivity and employee engagement by helping make their preferred apps talk together to reduce duplicate and long-winded work.
By Andrew Filev, CEO and founder of Wrike
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