Imagine hiring a carpenter and having him show up at your home only to ask you where the tools are. First, you'd be shocked. Second, you'd find another carpenter -- one that knew what they were doing!
And yet, white collar office workers show up on their first day of employment, at their new office, with nothing. "Where are the tools?" they ask. And what does the company say? "Here's your laptop, here's your software, here's your plan for cell phones, here's your monitor," and so on. If you are a computer programmer, you are given tools to program, tools to test, tools to collaborate. It makes no sense. Doesn't a good programmer already have their own tools? If not, how did they master programming in the first place? And wouldn't you want this programmer to use the same tools they used to develop their master skills vs. switching them to a different set of tools?
All to do what? Centralize. Standardize. Control.
And once corporations begin this process, where does it end? The structures feed on themselves, creating a growing appetite for more centralization, more standardization, more control. The corporation declares its employees need a "corporate image for laptops," "corporate networks," "corporate video conferencing," "corporate mailboxes," and, most laughably, "corporate social networks." These "corporate resources" are literally defined by the fact that they are partitioned off from the rest of the world. And they are often worse and lag behind what's available to us as consumers!
Why must we endure these terrible tools? "It's for Security," we are told. Move along, nothing to see here!
Employees are starting to question why they are stuck with these tools, too. Consequently, a "Bring Your Own Tech" (BYOT) revolution is underway -- driven by the "gig economy," powered by consumer-based global technology platforms, and underpinned by workers' desire for freedom, flexibility, and empowerment. And it's mostly a pretty great thing, even for those of us stuck in offices working 9-5.
As BYOT becomes the norm, productivity technology needs to start becoming personal. There's a false narrative in the market that, "enterprise software sucks." It doesn't. It's just built to help companies maintain control rather than to help individuals succeed in their daily work. So workers will naturally minimize their exposure to "for-company" tech and use their own "for-individual" tech whenever they can.
A "Bring Your Own Tech" (BYOT) revolution is underway – driven by the "gig economy".
Workers increasingly insist on bringing their personal phones, tablets and laptops to work, while carefully imaged corporate computers gather dust. And it's not only devices, but also "for-individual" networks and cloud platforms. Workers are tracking tasks and taking pictures of expense receipts in Evernote. They're cranking out work via rogue use of Google Docs or Office365. They're getting stuff done.
Look at LinkedIn. It's useful precisely because it's NOT a company network, but a global one. Workers use it to look up prospects, potential employees, and even colleagues at their own company! Anyone trying to create a company-specific "professional network" when LinkedIn exists is brain dead.
Those are all general-purpose, "for-individual" tech tools, but job-specific ones are also on the way. In some cases they're already here. And as more job functions become gig-like, workers will more quickly start rejecting "for-company" and adopt "for-individual" technology.
Salespeople are a great example, and they've arguably been operating with a "gig" mindset long before the term entered our cultural consciousness. They make and nurture connections throughout their careers, and a Rolodex (physical and later electronic) -- carried from job to job -- has always been the salesperson's prized possession. Then came corporate CRM. It forecasts for management, it monitors (spies on!) salespeople's activity, but does almost nothing to help individual reps sell more. Salespeople feed CRM systems the minimum information required to get paid out on deals. But personal tools hold their REAL rolodex, their REAL deal tracking, and their REAL plan for the year.
Full disclosure: my new startup FreeAgent Software
plays in this space of a "for-individual" global network for salespeople. But this is just one example in a wave of "for-individual" productivity tools, networks and platforms that I believe is only going to grow.
Today’s employees are finding the tools they need to do better work and porting them with them wherever they go.
Adobe Creative Cloud is another example. It's becoming a "for-individual" global network for graphic artists, as it adds capability to manage assets and collaborate with coworkers and clients.
Need a dev server for a pilot project? Don't get a box when there's AWS or Microsoft Azure.
And software developers are likely to use Atlassian JIRA for bug tracking and agile software development, no matter where they work. Today's employees are finding the tools they need to do better work and porting them with them wherever they go.
These are just a few examples of a looming trend. Great "for-individual" tools naturally supplement or even displace "for-company" ones, simply because they are more fun to use and help people do better work. The more 'gig-itized' the economy becomes, the faster the former will replace the latter. That's good for freelancers, who won't put up with corporate BS anyway. It's good for employees, who are functioning more and more like freelancers.
And ironically, the "for-individual" wave is also great for companies, because the business results are so obviously better. Why put silly constraints on employees when giving them more freedom actually improves the bottom line? Sacrificing some control (or the illusion of it) is a price companies should happily pay to get gig-economy efficiency, even within their four walls. Companies can't stop the "for-individual" tech wave anyway. The smart ones will ride it all the way to shore.