Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bring Your Own Expectations

Once upon a time, there was a clear separation between Work and Home. This separation has been undermined by two phenomena.

1. Working at Home - in other words, allowing work to invade the home environment
2. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) - in other words, allowing personal devices to invade the work environment

In this post, I want to talk about a third phenomenon, perhaps more invisible but no less important. Bring Your Own Expectations means that we have all become accustomed to getting what we want from the Internet, and therefore expect to get the same things (or "affordances") from corporate systems and platforms.

One of the most obvious gaps between our expectations and corporate reality is the failure of search. The Internet has an uncanny knack of guessing what we want, and there are strong commercial incentives for Amazon, Facebook, Google and the rest to improve their "mind-reading" capabilities.

In comparison, your company intranet is simply not in the same league, and therefore cannot anticipate your needs in the same way. Some people see this as merely a technical lack, to be addressed by some functionality inside the company firewall that roughly resembles the way Google worked ten years ago. But this is far more than a mere technical shortcoming.

And search is just one difference. There are also expectations about interoperability. For example, do we expect to use one network for linking with colleagues and customers, and a different network for linking with friends and family? Most people are still learning how to manage these different worlds without getting muddled - for example, people who automatically put kisses onto private messages may find themselves carrying this habit into corporate communications. Maybe sometimes our expectations lead us astray.

Some service providers (including notoriously Facebook) insist that you have a single identity for personal and business use. Other service providers accept that people may wish to have two or more accounts, in order to keep personal and business use separate, and are happy to design premium services largely for the business user. A good example of this is DropBox for Business, which allows multiple accounts (e.g. a business account and a personal account) to be synchronized to the same computer. However, people will still expect to have at least as much affordance in the business sphere as in the personal sphere, and will be unhappy if their employer provides (for example) corporate file-sharing services that are not as good as (say) DropBox. (Other file sharing services are available.)

Related Posts

BYOD Bring Your Own Device (Feb 2012)
On Working At Home (March 2014)
What Shape is Your Intranet (May 2014)

Updated 5 November 2014

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