Developing Employee Responsibility and Trust

Memo to the CIO: Employee responsibility and trust are in your hands

Increasingly, the choices you make, the principles and boundary conditions you set, and the leadership you demonstrate will determine the level of employee trust and responsibility in your organization. One of the consequences of the consumerization of information technology is that your users are now much more interested in and knowledgeable about information technology. The time has come for IT organizations to give up the simplistic, parent-child relationship that IT has had with its users. It is time to build an adult-adult, reciprocal relationship with users in which each side has responsibilities and is educated in making decisions.

Developing Employee Responsibility and Trust

This change will not happen overnight, just as children do not become responsible adults overnight. Nor are all users or all children the same. You need to have an environment of increasing responsibility that they can learn in, each at their own speed. You need to develop an ability to trust, but verify. Failure to do this means having to live with increasingly angry and unruly ‘teenagers’, at a time when you need ‘adult’ help with security, governance and business innovation.

Oh, and by the way, your customers have become smarter, too. Just like your users, they too want to be involved in the co-creation of products and service offerings; they want to ‘see’ directly into your systems, and access data directly. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate leadership, not just in the IT realm, but in helping others in your organization to adapt to a world in which responsibility is increasingly shared.
Will you do it? The choice is yours.

Consumerization and its implications for employee responsibility and trust

Consumerization is one of the forces creating the future of the IT organization and the future of IT users

Global business requirements, questions about sourcing strategies, emerging technologies and the advent of consumerization are all putting pressure on the corporate IT organization of today (see Figure 1). How enterprises react to the combination of these pressures will shape the future of the IT organization and its relationship with its users.

Figure 1 – The factors shaping IT organizations today

Figure 1 – The factors shaping IT organizations today

The business imperatives facing CIOs include the familiar list of marching orders:

  • Reduce costs
  • Create competitive advantage
  • Support corporate governance
  • Demonstrate regulatory compliance
  • Create and show business value
  • Maintain security
  • And, again, innovate Sourcing strategies remain a matter of active discussion.

Among the enduring questions are:

  • What should be done in-house and outside?
  • Should it be one vendor or many?
  • What should be onshore and what offshore?
  • Should work be outsourced or ASP?
  • How ‘thick’ should my infrastructure be?
  • What processes do I need?
  • How do I ensure the visibility and keep control of activities entrusted to others?

Emerging technology has been a historical focal point of change management. Most of the issues involved:

  • Separating market winners from losers
  • Distinguishing technology push from business benefit
  • Architecting for longer-term compatibility
  • Managing the migration from generation to generation

Consumerization is a recent addition to the pressures on CIOs and it is the one they have the least experience with, yet it is demonstrating the most explosive growth (see Figure 2). It is the force that is creating consumerized IT products and infrastructure in the form of publicly available services that anyone may purchase in small or large quantities. As we noted in our earlier paper1, consumerized offerings compete with some corporate IT products and services.

Figure 2 – The wide-ranging effects of consumerization

Figure 2 – The wide-ranging effects of consumerization

Consumerization is also creating employees who are newly knowledgeable about information technology and who increasingly expect their corporate IT organizations to work with them to exploit their new capabilities and personal investments in consumerized IT. In this report we examine the role of these newly capable employees, particularly with regard to responsibility and trust.

As IT organizations begin to explore the impact of consumerization, they must rethink how they work with business as well as how they develop their sourcing strategies, particularly in the area of governance. This will require CIOs to move away from their traditional attitude of assuming that the technocrat ‘knew best’, had total control over the entire IT infrastructure and made all of the key decisions. In effect, the rest of the organization was classified as ‘users’ – perhaps it is revealing that this is a terminology shared with drug dealers about their often highly dependent customers.

1. David Moschella, Doug Neal, Piet Opperman and John Taylor,“The ‘Consumerization’ of Information Technology”, CSC’s Research & Advisory Services, June 2004.


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