| Sunday November 23rd 2014

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IT Guy vs. The Users: A war that everyone loses


I’ve just had a quick article on the wars between corporate IT and tech enthusiast employees published in the Harvard Business Review. computer monitorsI’ve been on both sides of that barricade, and while I understand the plight of IT, I think that it’s against everyone’s interest to give them to power to lock employees out of figuring out better ways of using their PCs and the Internet to get the job done.

The dirty secret of corporate IT is that its primary mission is to serve yesterday’s technology needs, even if that means strangling tomorrow’s technology solutions. The myth of corporate IT is that it alone possesses the wisdom to decide which technologies will allow the workers on the front line to work better, faster and smarter — albeit with the occasional lackluster requirements-gathering process, if you’re lucky.The fact is that the most dreadful violators of corporate policy — the ones getting that critical file to a supplier using Gmail because the corporate mail won’t allow the attachment, the ones using IM to contact a vacationing colleague to find out how to handle a sticky situation, the incorrigible Twitterer who wants to sign up all his colleagues as followers through the work day — are also the most enthusiastic users of technology, the ones most apt to come up with the next out-of-left-field efficiency for the firm.


There has to be a way to bring those people inside the church, rather than going to war against them. I suspect the answer is in modern virtualization tools, which allow users to have a “clean” OS and environment that they use for in-compliance processing and work, and a “wild” sandbox where anything goes, each on separate network segments. Earning this setup would require demonstrating skill and desire to imagine new ways of getting the job done, and its use would be subject to regular, brief reports on lessons learned, techniques tried, failures and successes.

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