“We are the change that we seek” – Senator Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2008

Candidate Obama’s remark has relevance beyond the political world.  In the workplace a major change is taking place: the convergence of consumer and business technologies.  Yet this trend is driven not by C-level executives, nor IT departments, but by……us.  Frequent interactions with consumer-centric players such as Facebook, Twitter and Google has led us, the information workers of the world, to demand the same convenience and efficacy of our workplace technologies.

The once clear lines between personal and business technology has blurred and this convergence is changing the way we do business.   And it has significant implications for information professionals as they seek to manage information in their organizations.

The Great Convergence

How did we get here?  Several important trends have intersected in recent years.  Let’s take a quick look at the data points behind these developments (sources in parentheses):

Rise of portable devices

  • 70% of firms issue both a laptop and smartphone to executives (Forrester)
  • More than 50% of the information workforce use three or more devices for work (Forrester).

Rise of telecommuting and the “virtual” worker

  • 80% of employers offer some type of telecommuting option to workers (CG&C).
  • By 2016, 63 million Americans will work at least partly from home (ZD Net).

Younger, more tech-savvy demographics are entering workforce

  • Next year millennials will account for 36% of the U.S. workforce (BLS).
  • 18% of boomers will retire within five years (BLS).
  • Millennials will be 50% of the workforce by 2020 (BLS)

Information workers are bringing their own device to work (BYOD)

  • 53% of information workers report using their own PC or smartphone, an unsupported web or Internet site, or an unsupported software program to help them do their jobs better (Forrester).
  • By 2017, half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes (Gartner).
  • The average BYOD employee puts in an extra two hours and sends 20 more emails a day (BMC Software).

Information workers are blending work and personal tasks

  • 61% of information workers blend work and personal usage across the set of devices they use for work (Forrester).
  • 66% of information workers blend work and personal in the software they use as well (Forrester).

Information workers are blending work and personal time

  • 18% of employees read or send work emails in private situations, hiding the fact that they do so from their loved ones… and 18% even do so during private lunches or dinner (IPSOS)
  • Some believe “blurring” has a positive impact on their private life: owning a mobile professional device enables them to stay in touch with their families (89% “agree” and 43% “agree wholeheartedly”) (IPSOS)

Rise of new enterprise software models that adopt consumer approaches

  • Now valued at over $1 Bn, workplace collaboration tool Slack has over 500,000 daily users.  This number has grown by 35% in 2015 alone (ComputerWorld)
  •  Workplace communication tool Yammer added three million users in one year after $1.2 Bn acquisition by Microsoft (TechCrunch)

It is clear from the data above that convergence between business and personal is well underway.  But the progress that has been made only heightens the frustration users experience when they perceive a contrast between their business and personal technologies.

As noted author Geoffey A. Moore (Crossing the Chasm) comments:

“People can quickly find out who captained the 1932 Afghan cricket team.  But they can’t find out their company’s best customer!”

Implications for information professionals

In many ways, information professionals are at the front line of this “contrast”.  Knowledge workers depend on timely, relevant information but in most organizations, the information management process is constrained by a variety of factors, including:

  • Information tends to be housed in a vast array of systems and silos.
  • There is a huge and growing variety of information sources and formats.
  • Users demand information delivery across a wide range of devices.
  • Use of time-consuming manual processes to create alerts and briefings
  • Difficulty in delivering relevant information in the context of an individual’s work

As a result of these constraints, users are turning to Google and other self-service mechanisms.  This is very frustrating for information professionals.  In the recent FT-SLA report, knowledge providers rated this trend toward user self-service as their top challenge.

What to do?

The good news is there are systems and tools that can help information professionals close the gap between current state and user expectations.  For example, with the right information management platform, the information professional can…

  • Centralize:  Break down information silos.  Create a single place to aggregate and centrally manage information.
  • Organize:  Curate the most relevant topics from all available sources and formats, whether external, internal, social, etc.
  • Deliver:  Automatically deliver the right information to the right people anywhere on any device
  • Analyze: Analyze how information is being consumed in the enterprise.  Improve the process based on results.

In other words, with the right platform, information professionals have the opportunity to “delight” the knowledge workers in their enterprises.  These are some of the key benefits of Attensa’s platform.  At Attensa we are focused on connecting people with the information that matters to them and using technology to make this a seamless process.  Our tagline is Stop Managing Information.  Start Creating Intelligence.  Check us out.

Conclusion

Convergence is coming, to all aspects of enterprise technology.  Working with a partner like Attensa, the information professional can dramatically close the gap between the current state and rising user expectations.

As then-Senator Obama said, we can be the change we seek.