Why isn't readily available technology used?
[date-stamp]There's a wealth of readily available technology out there now; everything from smart mobile apps to digital personal assistants and applications that monitor the state of your company. When investigating which of these tools are used by businesses, I am often baffled by the fact that easy to use, simple tools that are great timesavers and provide exceptional value for money (especially when the tools are free!) are simply not used. Why this is the case has triggered my curiosity: why are people avoiding using tools that would greatly help them with their everyday tasks? Let’s take a look at what I discovered.
Ignorance is bliss - or is it?
This is an obvious explanation - people cannot use tools that they don't know exist. So is this a marketing problem? Yes and no. Yes, in the fact that those creating these tools should do what they can to make them known to the market. No, since people should stick a finger in the ground from time to time and reassess whether how they work is the most efficient way or if there's a better way. Google is your friend; poking around there with different search phrases will reveal most tools. What I do is to look for reviews of software by renowned publications or bloggers that I trust. If they have tried a new tool and it works for them and solves a problem that I also have, maybe I should check it out as well? This approach has given me lots of new tools over the years, from Evernote, Spotify to StrongVPN and Swayy. They are all great tools, and simplify my workday a lot.
Fear of the unknown
We do things this way, and we have done so for X years. This is a statement I hear from time to time, and it really scares me. If you've done things in one way for that long, maybe it's time to review whether this is still the best way to do things? Maybe you can provide better services for your customers and cut away non-productive tasks by adopting new tools and practices? The world is not static, and anyone who tries to enforce a static approach is bound to lose in the long term. So when it comes to the tools and technologies used by a company, a dynamic approach is preferred to stay on top of things. If your employees waste 40% of their time due to tasks that can easily be automated, that is the same as throwing money out the window.
When I see companies like this, it strikes me how destructive this kind of thinking is. Sooner or later a change will arrive for these companies as well, and it's better to have a gradual change than a revolution every five years IMHO.
In some companies, there's a lot of certification and testing that is required before any application is allowed to be used on the company's computers. It is true that this ensures that no damaging software is used within the company, but it also slows down (and in some cases stops) the introduction of useful tools. I think it is necessary to think about two categories of software for a company: critical production software and non-critical software. Time-savers such as RescueTime and security software like Rawstream are examples of non-critical software, and there's no need to "certify" such software before allowing it to be used in a company.
Red tape like software certification within a company clearly hinders the adoption of useful tools within a company. Why not trust your employees and allow such software? Have a good antivirus and malware scanner system in place on all computers (and enforce this), and you will sleep better at night even though "all" software is allowed in a company. That is a much better approach than banning software outright.
BYOS - Bring Your Own Software
Most of you have heard about BYOD - Bring Your Own Device. People bring their own iPads and smartphones to work and use them there, sometimes instead of the devices provided by their employer. This has now become increasingly normal. But a new trend is emerging, where employees also bring the software they use at home with them to work. This is called BYOS - Bring Your Own Software. Employees take software they find usable at home with them to work and start using it there. This happens without any approval by any IT department, and some companies have sadly taken moves against this trend. However, BYOS is a way for companies to modernize their toolset and ensure that the best and most usable tools are used within the company. Also, people use software they're used to and like when bringing their own software to work, thus eliminating dissatisfaction with tools chosen by the company and expected to be used throughout the company by all employees.
BYOS is therefore a very efficient way to ensure that readily available technology is actually used by companies.
Where are we headed with available technology?
Most of us have heard about Dropbox. It is so popular that "everyone" has heard about them and have therefore overcome the ignorance hindrance - people know about them. They are also used extensively within big companies, so the amount of red tape they are subjected to is less since "everyone else" have certified them for use within their companies. Employees also use Dropbox at home, so this software falls in the BYOS category as well.
My point with mentioning Dropbox is to emphasize that there are exceptions to the unfortunate trend of not using readily available technology. But there should have been more cases like Dropbox, and the best way this can be done is for companies to open up a little when it comes to new tools and technology.