CIO Symmetry

Feb 6 2009   4:51PM GMT

Unexpected side effect of recession: Time for IT education, training

EditorAnne Anne McCrory Profile: EditorAnne

When a business slowdown creates employees with too much time on their hands – look out, help desk.

That was my take on a blog from our senior writer Linda Tucci, who found herself in a roomful of lawyers at a conference in New York this week. I burst out laughing when I read her story about a presentation on Excel that IT expected a bunch of associates to attend. Instead, the room filled up with partners. Talk about a tough crowd.

But as a side effect of the recession, highly paid employees finally getting around to using the tools on their desktop isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually an opportunity to increase the ROI on the tools you’ve deployed by increasing usage – and getting visibility for IT among the higher ranks. Just getting them on board as tech users can bode well for future projects, too.

Excel might not be the best example for ROI – but think of the reporting capabilities you’ve created that many more people could be using, once they found the time for some IT education and training. The CRM or sales systems that need updating with information from their latest client calls. The mobile applications you went to great lengths to create and that people now might have the time to tinker with on their BlackBerrys. Encouraging a culture of catch-up could be well timed and even appreciated by those looking to engage in a new project if business is slow.

While I had to laugh at the thought of big shot lawyers frenetically calling the help desk as they struggled through their learning curve (woe to those help desk folks), I saw real value in what they and the organization were doing. IT and the business will benefit in the long run. Offering IT education and training is a great way to make the most of the recession and emerge from it in fighting form.

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