Don't ignore the expectations of next-gen IT users

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CIO Innovation

The pace of technology (and change in general) has accelerated tremendously. We see it every day, at work and in the rest of our lives as consumers. For example, most of us have smartphones, go to the app store, download the apps we want, and then enjoy instantaneous access to information to power whatever it is we need to do to enhance our daily lives.

It’s curious, though, how once you walk through the doors of your company you no longer think of IT as a service in the same way. For many, it’s like taking a step backward. Granted, some organizations are moving toward the consumerization of IT and the disruptive technologies that thrive there, but how do we bring what we have in our daily lives internally to what we do as IT? And how do we enable all that demand internally for our own organizations?

These questions are important, because the next generation of IT employees and IT consumers want it that way. They simply expect that they can work anywhere, anytime, with all of the data and capabilities essentially at their disposal. A lot of IT organizations are involved on a number of fronts to enable this reality. Many organizations have a large population of telecommuters, but there are opportunities to take that experience further with an app store-like environment where they can have access to the applications that they need to enable them to do their jobs even better.

Many of the most salient challenges are around security. They include:

  • The authorization and authentication of security
  • Defining and maintaining data privacy rights 
  • Defining and following technology and business process policies 
  • Implementing training and compliance with individual users to ensure they bear the individual and collective responsibility of their activity

Disruptive technology test drives

How can your organization get the best feel for which consumer-like technologies will thrive in your enterprise? Some companies hold an Innovation Day. Leading up to it, anyone can submit an idea using a pre-set template that asks for descriptions of the business need, what the competitors may be doing to meet it, how your idea would be implemented, and what the business value could be. Everyone is also free to log in and vote. When they do, they see ideas presented pairwise – two ideas presented head-to-head –which makes the process more efficient and less prone to favoritism of one idea.

Through this process we identify the top eight ideas for new innovations. The team behind each submission is invited to do a full-blown presentation and elevator speech pitches, then present that to the innovation council for some seed funding. If they get seed funding, they can move to prove out their idea on a small scale.

I am on an Innovation Day team right now, in fact. We are exploring how to use a mobile app to let virtually anyone address member issues and help bring them to a faster resolution. Our code name is Everyone Is a Superhero, which I like because it points out that from the member perspective, anyone who can solve an issue really looks a superhero to them. My hope is that this app will prove useful and join other functionality – click to chat with a nurse, or our concierge teams for commercial customers – to continue to make healthcare easier to manage. Anyone still burdened by the reality of having to schedule an appointment and take time out of their day to have a healthcare question answered will, I’m sure, find all of this technology disruptive – and all for the better.

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Jen Skrabak, PMP, PfMP, MBA, is a senior level project executive, leading high profile business and technology transformation projects, programs, and portfolios. She currently serves as the leader for the Program Management Office at a Fortune 15 company, and has over 18 years of professional experience across broad industries such as healthcare, biotechnology, entertainment, and financial services. Her recent accomplishments include establishing a PMO Center of Excellence that includes both PMs and BAs, implementing a global $50 million program across multiple sites, and managing a $500 million portfolio.  She has a successful track record of delivering business transformation initiatives – including Enterprise Resource Planning/SAP, Manufacturing Execution System, E-health platform, Project Portfolio Management System, Document Management System, Automated Plasma Disposition System, Laboratory Information Management System, Clinical Drug Supply System, Business Process Management, Learning Management System, and Operational Excellence programs.

Jen L. Skrabak, PMP, PfMP, is a senior level PMO executive, leading high profile innovation and transformation portfolios and programs for a Fortune 25 health information technology company.  She has over 18 years of professional experience in enterprise PMOs across a healthcare, life sciences, and financial services.  Ms.

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