Today’s my first day at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston. I’ve listened to a couple keynotes and attended a couple sessions. What struck me most was the hostility being paraded toward IT departments. I caught the first half of Kevin Jones’s Enterprise 2.0 Failures session, where he stressed that in order to learn, we must fail. More trust means more room to fail which means more learning, innovation, and progress. After twenty minutes of fluff, I decided to head to the panel discussion on realtime collaboration across the firewall.
After less than a minute of sitting in the session, Brandon Savage of Box.net was in the middle of addressing the point of “IT as a bottleneck.” IT causes reluctance to move despite the opportunity for improvement. A woman in the audience who works for a pharmaceutical company on the IT side, asked about building solutions rather than buying a massive, large-scale solution. Her company, she said, prefers to implement bit by bit, testing and measuring (and beating dead horses) along the way. The panel’s treatment of IT departments was suddenly proven correct.
But not all IT departments want to throw a wrench in the productivity wheel. Another man in the audience questioned what to do when faced with end users who couldn’t care less about major systems like SharePoint. “When they’re outside the firewall, they just want the simplest option,” he said. Google Docs was named as the main rogue weapon of choice for those in no-firewall’s-land, but Savage dropped DropBox’s name as another form of employees going rogue. Savage took his opportunity to explain how Box.net is a better option than DropBox, with its ability to track files once they’re out in the wild, whether it’s who’s looking at what, how many times, and from what IP address.
Is IT fighting a losing battle?
Capabilities such as Box.net’s tracking features provide some hope that IT isn’t on its own. The search for a simple, user- and IT-friendly solution isn’t completely in vain, as long as IT departments keep some tips in mind.
- Don’t just say “no.” Just because you know all of the reasons that sending the clients’ account information via Google Docs doesn’t mean that Bill from sales will know. One of the audience’s voiced complaints about IT departments is that they’re not helpful enough. Explaining why the extra steps to access SharePoint instead can save you headaches now and later.
- Be proactive. Savage says that the majority of sales leads at Box.net are incoming from IT departments. While it may be a thorn in your foot that consumer applications are shiny, attracting every Joe Schmo at your company, they are necessary for pushing enterprise vendors. Savage pointed out that as long as there are consumer application start-ups with fewer obstacles for their end-users, they will outpace enterprise solutions. “As consumer applications become more accessible and used, it opens the end users’ eyes to the ease that’s possible, but also opens IT’s eyes to the vulnerabilities.”
What are your concerns when it comes to outside perceptions of IT? How does your company keep communications open amongst departments?