Blog: What happens when IT says no?

Blog: What happens when IT says no?

No, that's outside our policy" may not quite have the finality that IT folks remember from long ago. Instead, we've entered into the age of technology consumerization, social computing, populism, or whatever you want to call it -- and there's no going back. The net result -- if IT says no, what's to prevent an employee from, as they say, just doing it?

For example: over the past few years I've asked a number of IT executives whether their firm is using an instant messaging tool to communicate inside the company. Not a scientific study, by any means, but some answers are intriguing: "We only are using IM inside IT", or "We haven't yet rolled it out", or my favorite: "My job is to ensure that employees don't use IM."

Meanwhile, back at the water-cooler ranch, employees quietly crank up gmail, GoogleTalk, AOL, or Yahoo Messenger, etc., etc. to exchange e-mail, chat with their college student or high school kids, and who knows, maybe even send a few documents or pictures around that your enterprise wishes they wouldn't. And maybe they even shun the content management system for wikis or ignore the Sharepoint sites you set up for collaboration in favor of Google Groups.

This is just a tiny tip of a very large transformation that may not be apparent to all in the IT world, particularly those in the day-to-day trenches: non-IT people are selecting technology every day that IT doesn't control, and even more striking in project work when IT says "no, not our policy" or "no, we locked down the requirements", it is ever-easier for those non-IT folk to just do whatever they want to do anyway.

Sheer pervasiveness and ease-of-use make this inevitable. But IT organizations can work with, versus against, this trend if they stop saying "no" and convert to a "let's see how we can make what you want to do work with what we have" or "did you know that we've already put something like that in place?" or "let's make sure we understand what you're asking", and finally, "what tool are you using so I can learn more about it?"

This is the essence of marketing IT in the world of business technology -- making sure that IT understands what business peers want, making sure that business peers understand what IT is doing and can do, and continuously closing communication gaps.

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