The workplace needs a technology revolution

Businesses should be readying themselves to deal with the consumer tech used by a new generation of workers... before they are forced to do so.

Many companies are not ready to allow employees greater freedom in using the IT devices and applications of their choice in the workplace.

So claims a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which suggests that nearly half (47 per cent) of European executives feel their organisations are not supportive of expanding technology freedom at a fundamental level.

This situation had to change, urged the report, as Generation Y' workers are increasingly populating the workforce, and they tend to be more comfortable with and reliant on using new tools such as social media and messaging technologies.

If and when this generation advances to middle management, they could potentially challenge the established way that IT is currently managed.

"The choice is between making the change now, as it is beginning to happen, or having the change forced upon you as that generation becomes the managers and boardroom executives in a few year's time," said Rik Ferguson, solutions architect of Trend Micro, which sponsored the research.

"It makes sense to try and manage the change by putting policies, procedures and technology in place to make it happen in a secure fashion, then to risk being swamped by it a few years down the line," he added.

UK executives were the most optimistic when it came to technology democracy', with half seeing more opportunity than risk when it came to employees using their own technology in the workplace.

Unfortunately this didn't match up with the policies and procedures that businesses are actually putting in place to deal with the risks.

For example, very few European companies (21 per cent) provide training for employees on the use of personal communication devices like smartphones.

Ferguson also said that many companies that hadn't already embraced this type of training weren't looking to put in schemes in the near future: "That's a real warning signal for me. Something that enterprises need to be aware of."

He issued a stark warning for businesses not prepared to change: "They are going to lose track of information internally and externally... They run the risks of brand damage, loss of intellectual property, and that's both through hardware use and misuse of social networking technologies."

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