The three kinds of employees and how they react to consumerization

Credit: victor1558 via Flickr

This is a guest post by Doug Neal and Jim Ginsburgh, researchers for CSC’s Leading Edge ForumThey will be leading a Readiness Assessment Workshop at the CITE Conference & Expo on Sunday, June 2, in San Francisco.

One size does not fit all. This is broadly true of things such as mobile phones, tablets, or operating systems, but it is especially true of employees  Segmentation of the workforce is an important step in a successful consumerization program.  Often we see a 20%-60%-20% pattern in a typical workforce. 

The first 20% are the pioneers that will try almost anything new that makes intuitive sense. This group is excellent to use in a pilot project, which is your chance to test alternate forms of segmentation and review where the biggest payoffs are. Even within the first 20%, it is helpful to look for enthusiastic volunteers to improve the odds of success, as they tend to deal with hassles without making a lot of noise. It may even make sense to test the volunteers to ensure that they can take care of their own needs. Some firms have had good experiences with the European Computer Driver’s License test.

Within the first 20%, there are important ways to segment people to improve the odds of success based on the following criteria:

  • Geography – certain places in the world have a lower sense of entitlement and have lower expectations about being ‘nannied’.
  • Type of job – certain job types (sales) may already be well on their way to a consumerized model, using their own money to buy equipment to improve their sales results.
  • Applications architecture – people who primarily use lightweight applications via the browser.
  • Network architecture – sites that already have transparent access to the Internet.
  • Age – younger workers in general are more willing to move to a consumerized model although there are plenty of older workers who are also willing.

The next 60% are the fence-sitters.  They will wait to see how the first 20% have fared, which helps make pilot success even more important. The same segmentation approach can be used with this population.

The final 20% should be addressed last, but it is essential that they eventually move to the new model  Otherwise, it is possible to get stuck in two different models over the long term, which would severely impact the benefits case. If you have a group that refuses to move to the future model, consider asking them to shoulder the entire cost burden of their legacy systems.

Here are some questions to consider on the topic of workforce segmentation:  

  • How will you select your segments – by geography, job type, age, applications usage, transparent network availability?
  • How will you get the middle 60% to want to move?
  • How will you deal with the last 20% of both employees and legacy applications?
  • How will you prevent the last 20% from holding the other 80 percent back?
  • How will you present this to the other functions (that is, HR) whose help you will need?
  • Will you have training that helps employees learn new capabilities and how will you incentivize them to want to take it?
  • Can you engage some executives to be visible participants in the pilot?
  • Do contractors represent an attractive segment with a strong benefits case for an early move?
  •  How can you leverage the existing population of home users?
  • What additional services can be made web-facing to support self-service (that is, password reset)?

These tips on workforce segmentation are adapted from the Implementation Issues section of the LEF’s report entitled, The Consumerization Workbook.

See also: Advice to IT: How to Make Your Consumerization Project Stick | How to Develop a Business Case for a Consumerization Project | How IT Can Remain Relevant in a Do-It-Yourself World

Doug Neal is a Research Fellow for CSC’s Leading Edge Forum – a global research and advisory programme for CIOs and Senior Executives that explores new thinking and develops next practice roadmaps that address the major challenges at the intersection of business, IT and management. Doug is responsible for research into Consumerization and the Employee. His focus is on the intersection of strategy, business operations and technology.

Jim Ginsburgh is a Research Associate for CSC’s Leading Edge Forum. Jim's areas of expertise include leadership of a large IT organization and global business enterprise architecture.  After a distinguished 36 year career with BP, Jim is now providing IT consulting services through his affiliation with  As VP of Enterprise Architecture at BP, he was instrumental in leading an effort to move around one third of their PCs to a consumer model and also initiated a digital allowance programme.  For his leadership efforts, Jim was named an ‘IT Agenda Setter’ by

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