Tech Guys need to understand that they can't keep the door locked any more…

Jason Hiner (above) writes the Tech Sanity Blog at Tech Republic, and in his Best of 2007: Tech Sanity Check
column, he singles out a list of The six consumer technologies that are destroying traditional IT

What he does next in that blog posting is interesting.

He points out to IT professionals that the key reason end users are sneaking consumer technologies into the workplace is because IT provides lousy customer service; i.e., it tries to block these technologies because of their perceived security risks, instead of devising more secure versions of the applications people believe they need to use merely to get their jobs done.

It’s an interesting spin on the tension between technologically sophisticated end-users and the IT people who are under orders to keep things buttoned down.

Another good example of what the British call this kind of “headset” happened to a friend of mine who recently left his company.

As part of his exit package he received a company laptop to keep for personal use. Before he could take it home, however, the corporate IT people completely erased the hard drive and then reinstalled on the machine a partially crippled version of Windows 2000 (not XP or Vista!) that can’t access the Internet because the corporate version of W2K they installed doesn’t include the networking elements. At least one other exec getting the same parting gift had the same experience.

But the IT people never bothered to tell them that the computer wouldn’t work properly for wireless networking as these folks expected to use it. The IT people just did what they were told, but had absolutely no sense of responsibility for the bad end-user experience they were creating.

Shel Holtz

Along a similar and parallel line to Hiner’s commentary, my friend and communications colleague Shel Holtz has been leading a fight called “Stop Blocking,” to urge corporations to get smarter about the fact that employees really do need to have access to all kinds of consumer-generated online content.

Shel is urging companies to stop blocking sites like YouTube and online shopping sites. Companies think they are reducing the amount of time employees waste at non-work activities, but they are also preventing their creative employees from getting ideas for new and different ways to promote the business, and sending a strong message to the troops that the company doesn’t trust them to behave responsibly.

It’s probably because the Internet is new and scary to companies, probably like the telephone was when first introduced.

Most companies tacitly accept that people are going to make a few personal calls on the office phone. No one blocks office phones from being able to call stores, doctors’ offices, or even movie theaters any more. But if someone wants to see the viral video their competitor has posted on YouTube, you’ll just have to wait until you get home to look at it, and by that time you will probably say, “If the company doesn’t want me to figure out a strategy to react to this on company time, why should I bother on my own time?”

And that’s a good question for all companies to ponder as they tackle the social media.

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