HR: Are You Ready for Mobile Diversity?

byodMore and more mobile devices are showing up at work, whether sanctioned by IT or not. iPhones and iPads, Androids, Blackberries, … today’s workers bring with them the tools with which they are most comfortable in order to get work done. Have you embraced the usage of personal devices in the workplace (a “bring your own device” or “BYOD” policy), or does your company have policies against using non-company sanctioned devices for work related activities? Even if prohibited, you can bet there are employees using their personal technologies (phones, tables, laptops) for at least some information sharing related to work, verbally if not actual data sharing. Similarly, despite any limitations you may have on accessing external social sites while at work, surveys show that employees will find ways to circumvent those policies.

Cisco highlighted this love affair with mobile devices in their recently published Connected World Technology report, which included a survey of college students and young professional under 30 and their views on technology. In the report, two-thirds of Millennials indicated that not only are mobile devices the most important technology in their lives, but they’d take a job with lesser pay in exchange for workplace flexibility around using the mobile device of their choice and access to social sites at any time.

Device Support

Last week, I was invited to speak with a group of IT and HR executives on the topic of Mobile HCM, and the Cisco report was indeed timely. Regarding device support, most in this group of executives (spanning many different industries and employer sizes) had already embraced the concept of mobile diversity, or were seriously considering it. Security of the data stored on these devices was of course paramount, but at the end of the day, the policies developing around mobile device usage was largely independent of the device itself. Bandwidth and skillsets were also highlighted as important considerations when moving, for example, beyond traditional email and calendaring functions to more robust processes and applications via mobile.

Social Networking

It also became apparent rather quickly that we could not talk about “mobile” without also talking about “social”, given that mobile devices are increasingly used for internet access, social networking and many other non-voice related activities. (In fact, recent studies indicate that time spent actually making calls from smartphones is often far less than the time spent on non-voice related activities.) Accessing external social sites during work hours is moving out of the realm of convenience to become a business imperative. From souring candidates through social networking sites, to collaborating with professionals on specialized topics, social collaboration sites and tools — accessed via mobile devices — are becoming an important part of how work gets done. Hence, when organizations consider deploying HCM and collaboration tools through mobile devices, they also have to consider their policies around accessing social media outside of the enterprise and the type of information that can and cannot be shared on these sites to ensure protection of the company’s intellectual property, regulatory compliance requirements, as well as a host of other considerations.

Mobile HCM Processes

Looking at the actual HCM business processes enabled via mobile, the priorities need to vary based on what the organization wants to accomplish with mobile/social enablement. Are you looking to reduce burden on HR/call center/other staff, to facilitate more efficient workflows (such as reviewing candidates or approving transactions), or to foster engagement, collaboration and knowledge sharing? .) Areas such as learning, where just-in-time education on a topic to support customers or a sales cycle, or enterprise directories, where staff can quickly find experts on a topic, can provide significant benefits in both efficiency and effectiveness when deployed on mobile devices.

Unfortunately, and in a sad commentary on the state of mobile HCM today, according to the CedarCrestone 2011-2011 HR Systems Survey, payroll is the most adopted area of HCM mobile deployment (equal to recruiting). Looking forward to 2012, most companies do report plans to grow their adoption of mobile processes in the more strategic areas of succession planning, employee development and performance management — areas where we identify, develop and cultivate the workforce of the future. This highlights a growing focus on driving business outcomes through employee enablement, knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Measuring Value

A recurring theme during last week’s executive discussion, and manifesting in surveys focused on social and mobile processes in HCM, is the issue of measuring the success of these initiatives. While embracing a BYOD policy and enabling social media access and transactions on mobile phones helps you attract and retain the next generation of workers, at the end of the day you need to ensure you are deriving value from these investments. The introduction of collaborative, mobile processes means new measures of success, new ways of valuing the impact on the business. I have seen too many surveys where questions such as “How has the use of mobile or social improved your processes or business outcomes?” result in the response “I don’t know” in the majority of cases. Measuring outcomes from social and mobile investments will be the topic of an upcoming blog.

Your POV:
Do you agree that open policies such as BYOD are necessary for your organization, and will you be equally open about accessing social media external to your company? What are your biggest challenges in these areas, and what are your priorities for mobile HCM?

Take the Survey:  How much should organizations regulate the use of mobile devices in the workplace?  Take the Constellation Research Group survey and gain access to the results: Constellation Research Group Mobile Device Usage Survey

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