There’s one ultimate measure of technology’s effectiveness in the workplace: Does it advance the goals of the organization?
On the ground level, the answer to that question depends on whether the technology either 1) improves processes, or 2) helps employees do their jobs better and more efficiently.
Sometimes employees have strong opinions about the latter. Such was the case with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who no longer will — under any circumstances! — use Microsoft Surface tablets on the sideline.
“As you probably noticed, I’m done with the tablets,” Belichick said to reporters. “They’re just too undependable for me. I’m going to stick with (paper) pictures, which several of our other coaches do, as well, because there just isn’t enough consistency in the performance of the tablets. I just can’t take it anymore. …”
Lesson No. 1: When technology interferes with employees’ ability to do their jobs, they’ll stop using that technology. They may not rant publicly, as Belichick did, but that might even be worse because it increases the possibility of workers turning to rogue or unauthorized (and undetected) IT tools.
The Patriots coach directed even more of his considerable ire toward the communications technology used between coaches on the sideline, in the booth and with the quarterback/playcaller on the field:
“Those fail on a regular basis. … There’s a lot of equipment involved too. There’s headsets in the helmets. There’s the belt pack, that communication. There’s a hookup or connection to an Internet service. …There’s a number of connections. They’re on different frequencies. … This is all league equipment. …We get the equipment the day of the game. We test it, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Where to begin? Integration issues, multiple points of failure, lack of testing … no wonder Belichick is fuming. He can’t do his job!
Which leads to Lesson No. 2: If enterprises want to use their networking and communications tools, they have to ensure that the tools and the process work. What Belichick describes is intolerable, and it sure seems as if the National Football League is at fault for not eliminating (or at least sharply reducing) these major communications failures.
The bottom line is that enterprises must adopt — and follow through on — a user-centric approach to technology. It doesn’t matter if the user is in a cubicle, at home or on an NFL sideline.