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Employees Take the IT Reigns at Many Corporations

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Dec. 13, 2011 – When it comes to creating new apps or software to solve business problems, a growing number of employees are going it on their own. A new survey from Intuit QuickBase(Nasdaq: INTU) revealed that nearly one in five information workers has built or customized a Web app or software for work purposes without support from IT.

The results of these tech-savvy innovators: faster help for customers, improved productivity and better collaboration among employees.

Many businesses recognized the productivity benefits of empowering staff to choose their own technologies to help customers and rethink business processes. However 35 percent of businesses still do not enable or encourage employees to create solutions independently. The survey found that 50 percent of information workers now turn to online databases and Web-based productivity apps, instant messaging platforms, video chat services and social networks to solve their own business problems.

“There’s a fast-growing population of do-it-yourself app creators in every organization,” said Allison Mnookin, vice president and general manager of Intuit QuickBase. “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. 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.”

Empowerment Builds Lasting Value

Businesses that empower employees to create their own solutions are quickly finding lasting value. Sixty-eight percent of information workers who built or customized an app on their own said they completed the work in less than a week. In contrast, 72 percent of those using an internal development team to build a solution reported it took more than a month to complete.

Not only are they creating their solutions faster, the solutions are sticking. Eighty-two percent reported that their do-it-yourself solution is still being used within their organization or team.

Not Empowering Resourceful Employees Brings Risk

Employees inclined to define their own solutions, but work in technology restrictive environments will do so anyway. A total of 17 percent 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.”

Businesses that don’t enable employees to act independently run the risk of losing their talent. Fifty percent of “rogues” responding said they’d consider switching jobs to have a more technologically free work environment. Among people that feel empowered, that percentage open to switching jobs drops to 26 percent.

About the Survey

Intuit and Global Strategy Group surveyed more than 900 information workers at companies with more than 100 employees, investigating whether they felt empowered to solve customer and work process problems on their own. The survey also asked whether employees were sanctioned by corporate IT departments to use technologies of their choice to do so. To download a PDF of this report and to find more resources on the topic, please visit the Workplace Innovation section of the QuickBase blog. The study was inspired by Forrester Research’s June 2010 report, “The HERO Index: Finding Empowered Employees.”

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