Employees aren’t waiting around for IT to deliver new apps

50% of information workers say they find their own tech solutions to business problems

Today's tech-savvy employees aren't waiting around for IT to deliver new applications. They're taking matters into their own hands, according to new survey data.

Intuit QuickBase found that among 900 information workers surveyed, nearly 20% have built or customized a Web app or software for work purposes without support from IT. In addition, 50% of workers said they use tools such as online databases, Web-based productivity apps, instant messaging, video chat and social networks to solve their own business problems.

The DIYers work pretty quickly: 68% of respondents who've built or customized an app said they completed the work in less than a week. The majority (82%) also said their DIY solution is still being used within their organization or team.

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DIY apps can increase productivity, enable better collaboration among employees, and improve customer service, according to Allison Mnookin, vice president and general manager of Intuit QuickBase, which makes business and financial management software for small and midsize enterprises.

"These motivated employees are taking advantage of easy-to-use, Web-based platforms to respond to the accelerating pace and increasing complexity of business demands," Mnookin said in a statement. "With intimate knowledge of customer and workgroup needs and easy-to-use cloud tools, information workers solve their own problems faster than IT can accommodate them. IT departments that embrace and empower these employees can drive competitiveness for their businesses."

Of course, not all companies see it that way. Despite the potential benefits of allowing employees to find their own tech solutions, many companies won't sanction employee-developed apps: 35% of workers polled said their businesses do not enable or encourage employees to create solutions independently.

As expected, there are also a fair amount of employees who are determined to create their own apps regardless of corporate policy and don't care a whit about getting permission. In technology-restrictive environments, 17% of information workers said they select tools and software to meet their needs without IT approval or support.

"These 'rogue' employees can be extremely beneficial in their motivation to solve business needs, but their energies are best harnessed if management supports them by providing the resources they need to succeed," Mnookin said. "Otherwise, if they leave the company, IT will not necessarily know how to replicate or maintain the success."

Intuit found the flight risk among rogue employees who feel technologically restricted at work is high: 50% said they'd consider switching jobs to have a more technologically free work environment. Among workers who feel empowered to solve customer and work process problems on their own, far fewer -- just 26% -- said they're open to switching jobs.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and check out her blog, Occupational Hazards. Her e-mail address is abednarz@nww.com.

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