Enable employee choice to drive business forward- embrace the challenge!

By: Chris Hewertson - 10/04/2012

Chris Hewertson is the CIO/VP of Internal Development at Colt. Chris has broad IT leadership experience in both service provider and customer organisations. He is a Chartered IT Professional, Fellow of the Chartered Institute for IT and regularly represents Colt at Industry conferences speaking on a wide range of IT / Change Management related subjects.

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Businesses are really starting to understand that enabling employees to make their own choices about how, where and when they work leads to better business outcomes, such as increased productivity and a more engaged workforce, ultimately leading to improved business performance and increased business flexibility. However, offering these choices can cause fear and concern for many working in the IT side of the business, as worries abound around ‘how to manage security’ or ‘how to implement bring your own device schemes (BYOD)’ from a technical perspective. 

Here at Colt we approach the challenges of mobility, consumerisation and security by focusing primarily on business outcomes and benefits. BYOD and mobility are two key outcomes of a business transformation programme we call ‘The Office of the Future’ (OTF).  As part of this, for example, we now offer BYOD as an option to 2000 employees and plan to extend this to all our employees across our European, Indian and US locations by the end of 2012.

A mandate for change – “show me what great looks like!”

The OTF programme started life in an IT business review meeting in 2009 when Rakesh Bhasin, our CEO, aware of the need and associated costs of refreshing our desktop estate, challenged us to use it as an opportunity to improve our employees’ work experience and to leverage the investment to help transform our organisation. The final requirement, which became the mandate for change was “show me what great looks like!”

We didn’t focus on the technology solutions themselves, but on the outcomes for our employees and our organisation that the technology solutions provide, such as mobility and flexible working, and the associated business benefits from these changing practices. Then came the next challenge… ‘prove it!’

Prove it! – Business outcomes as success criteria

Aside from proving the technology itself, by far the most important success criteria of the pilot scheme was the strong positive feedback from the users. 95% of respondents reported improvements in work effectiveness and with these clear benefits, we could gain support to invest in a change programme to deliver across the organisation.  For an overview of the pilot and the other success criteria we used you can read our case study.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) – providing choice

Having previously virtualised our entire IT server estate we felt the next logical step in driving operational efficiency was to virtualise the desktop, and this decision directly allowed us to satisfy our key programme objective of giving people choice. Choice not only about what device to use, but when combined with flexible working policies the choice also of where and when to use it. Now with our ‘app store’ we are even able to provide the choice of what software to run on it.

Enabling business as usual in unusual times

By focusing on business outcomes, our technology infrastructure is ready to support changes to business practices, such as those that will occur over the Games timeframe in London this year. With enormous increases in people and traffic congestion in many parts of central London, Colt is encouraging large numbers of staff to work more flexibly. However, our teams are confident that the enablers delivered by our OTF programme and our investment in VDI means that we can support the business during these unusual times!

An offer

I’m already well over my blog limit, so if you would like to understand in more detail the challenges we faced, the business cases we needed to develop, the decisions we needed to make (or change), our implementation approach (self serve where possible), our policies, processes and incentives, or even to share some of your own experiences then please contact me or find me on Twitter. I’m more than happy to host any peer level discussions. Alternatively, I’ll be presenting our journey at the CIO Advisory Conference in May and will be happy to pick up discussions with you there.

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