Bring your own Everything!
20 years ago most people were employed and their employers provided the offices they worked in, the desks they sat at, the chairs they sat in, the tools they used and defined the times at which they worked. Employers controlled everything about the work experience, even for many people (task and processes workers) the processes they followed. For knowledge workers things were slightly different.
20 years ago knowledge workers had almost no tools to support them in the jobs they did, they had their brains, a telephone, the post, a pencil, paper and maybe a whiteboard. Employers had very little influence over processes knowledge workers followed, the way they worked and the way they used the tools available to them, everything was almost totally under individual control. Knowledge workers liked to be in control, because knowledge work and knowledge workers come in all spaces and sizes.
Then the IT revolution happened, and seven key changes took place:
- Knowledge work became king: Task and process work mostly disappeared being automated away or off shored
- Pressure increased: The speed of knowledge work increased dramatically as did the amount of work an individual was expected to do
- Knowledge workers feared for their jobs as they found themselves competing in a global market place
- Knowledge workers became rich: often having more disposable income to invest in IT than their employers
- Knowledge workers got used to choice: being exposed to many new IT tools to help them with their work and play
- Knowledge workers had spare time: to invest in building IT skills, discover new technologies, manage their own IT, exploit IT in their personal lives that has an impact on their work lives
- IT becomes consumerized: being as important in the home as the office
Unfortunately employers didn’t notice, they assumed that as IT took over from paper, pencil they could dictate what, how, when, where it was used. Predictably this didn’t work. Knowledge workers still didn’t all work the same way and now they didn’t work in the same places, or at the same times.
Today the popular enterprise solution for Knowledge Workers is to allow them to ‘bring your own device’ maybe ‘bring your own apps’ even ‘bring your own technology’ but for me the genie us out of the bottle. Knowledge workers and the high performance teams they work in want to ‘bring their own everything’ and just plug into the enterprise for only essential services. They want to bring their own:
- place of work
- professional network
- personal knowledge management resources
- tools (including but not exclusively technology)
- and maybe even bring their own team
Of course BYOE sits on a continuum, some people are happy to be passive recipients of ‘enterprise provides everything’, whilst others, those at the leading edge, the high performance individuals and teams who are 10 times as productive as the average are most likely to advocate BYOE.
For me the trend is clear, the knowledge work arms race has begun and only the fittest will survive.