The Consumerization of IT: CEO & Founder Robert Schulte Weighs In

For human resources professionals, the effects of the consumerization of IT are hard to miss. Even entry-level employees have access to powerful tools, applications and networks in their personal lives. Many organizations find these same technologies infiltrating the workplace. From employee and manager self-service portals to the growing number of social media elements in performance and learning management, the technology employees expect to find in the workplace is changing.

But how will this shift–the consumerization of IT–impact the way an organization recruits, engages and manages its workforce? What opportunities and challenges does it present to human resources? I recently caught up with Robert Schulte, founder and CEO of HR Services Inc. to discuss this trend, and he had some great points:

According to a survey conducted by Avanade, 73% of executives consider the consumerization of IT a top priority,and 79% will make new investments in embracing this trend in 2012. What factors are driving this?

SCHULTE: The shift is happening from the “bottom-up”. Employees are beginning to recognize that technology can make their lives/jobs easier and they are beginning to embrace the software that they used to avoid/detest. Vendors are beginning to understand that they need to make their software “usable not confuse-able”. Software that is easy to use and helps people accomplish tasks will be adopted from the bottom-up. IT professionals will not have to force people to use this type of software, they will simply have to enable them.

There’s a widely-held view that access to consumer technology (social media, the Internet, mobile apps) will offer too many distractions, and negatively impact productivity. Do you agree or disagree?

SCHULTE: Social media, the Internet, mobile apps do have the potential to distract employees from doing their work, but good employees know how to use common sense and discipline to prevent these distractions from impacting the way they work. Poor employees will find other distractions to negatively impact their job (water-cooler gossip, day dreaming, etc.). If you take the lead in providing good direction for employees on how to use these tools to benefit the organization, most will use them to become more productive, not less productive.

Where is the greatest opportunity for Human Resources to embrace the consumerization of IT in their organization? Recruiting? Learning and development? Performance management?

SCHULTE: In that we are a talent acquisition (recruiting) software company, I obviously think that the sourcing and recruiting areas have great opportunities for those who embrace the new social technologies (Facebook, Twitter, SEO, etc). We still see many customers struggling with the way they incorporate these technologies into their recruiting processes. Those that have embraced these concepts are seeing referrals increase and advertising costs decrease.

There’s a lot of conversation around the need for HR to position itself as a more strategic and consultative, rather than administrative and transactional, function. How might consumerization help (or hurt) efforts to that end?

SCHULTE: I believe that a large part of consumerization is shifting to “self-service”. When processes become easy for the employee to perform without interaction from HR, HR has more time to be strategic.

Many organizations struggle with the unique challenges specific to recruiting and managing an increasingly mobile and tech-savvy workforce. How can HR tackle these challenges head on, and support leadership in these endeavors?

SCHULTE: I believe this new mobile, tech-savvy workforce is actually easier to manage. This workforce wants to be given the tools to do the job, but then they want you to get out of the way to let them do their jobs. HR can tackle the challenges by helping to provide an environment that’s focused on getting the job done and is not over-burdened with rules and procedures that make these people less productive.

About Robert: Robert Schulte founded HR Services Inc.  in 1993 after a need arose for a local Human Resources Outsourcing firm. Since inception, Robert’s forward thinking mindset has transformed HR Services Inc. from a HRO to a leading applicant tracking system vendor. As the CEO, Robert oversees the day-to-day operations of HR Services Inc., while also actively participating in the future development of myStaffingPro.

Robert holds a Bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and a Masters of Business Administration from Ashland University.

About the Author: Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice—an online resource for talent management software buyers guides and more. For the full roundtable discussion, find the original post on his blog: http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/hr/expert-roundtable-consumerization-of-it-a-call-to-arms-for-hr-1030712/

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