Technology, big or small, can change the landscape of a business. Innovations like email, the iPhone, and the Cloud were so earth shattering that they forever altered the world of IT, while more subtle changes like Single-Sign On, task automation software, and remote connectivity have significantly improved how and where people work. Whether big or small, new technology concepts need to be vetted and reviewed, looking for ways to improve the efficiency and profitability of your business. While it is the job of the IT department to discover and implement new technology, technical innovations can come from almost anywhere in the office. Below are 3 ways IT departments can encourage technical innovation in the workplace.
#1: Establish Trust, Not Fear
This is a good motto for IT departments in general. Employees need to feel that they are working with IT, not against them. If employees only see emails enforcing policy from IT, than they may not feel comfortable bringing forward new technical suggestions. The IT department should be seen as a resource for good. Look for ways to proactively help and support users, and make sure that they feel heard when they come to you with a need or new idea.
#2: Stop Shunning Shadow IT, Embrace It Instead
Shadow IT, or when employees implement their own, non-sanctioned technology solution, is seen as a huge security risk and burden to IT. However, shadow IT usually starts from a good place. Employees, especially millennials, are always looking for ways to make their job more efficient. This can be as simple as buying a marketing automation tool or using Google Docs to collaborate with colleagues.
While employees shouldn’t break company policy, IT teams still need to work with users to ensure that they have the right solutions for their needs.
#3 Make It Easy for People to Share Their Ideas
If an employee comes across a tool or an app that could benefit the company, they should be able to easily share this idea with their IT team, and trust that the idea is being reviewed and considered. Have an IT Suggestion Box on your company intranet is a good start. Remember, IT teams often focus on the backend infrastructure, and may not always see the importance of having easy to use, productivity building tools that can support various user needs. Also, try and be as timely as you can when implementing a new solution. Nothing upsets employees more than waiting for something they need, especially if they don’t understand why they are waiting.