Thursday, January 21, 2010

Should we just get out of the way?

Saw this interesting story on ZDNet today:

How did IT fall so far behind the tech curve? Between the Lines

Gartner makes the case here that IT is so messed up that they've become the problem instead of the solution. The article made me stop and think about some long held beliefs. Here are the things they made me question (in no particular order):

1) Standardization is good. While it's true that standardization makes MY LIFE easier (and it's really all about me and my needs, isn't it?); I'm questioning now if it makes our customer's lives easier. In reality the standardization drive was done to reduce IT costs by allowing users to make fewer choices on their own. This reduces the number of wrong choices but also eliminates some good ones.

2) IT is really hard and should be left to experts. There are some things we do that are really hard. Configuring a Cisco router is not something that I would let just anyone do. But installing MS Office? You really just need to click OK a bunch of times. Accept all the defaults and you're probably OK. Are we holding things too close to the vest?

3) Allowing users to purchase their own technology is more expensive than doing it for them. This is a tough one. I know that if I do a group purchase of laptops, I can get a discount. So this implies some savings here. On the other hand, I have to manage this process with my expensive labor. This negates to some degree the savings. Seems to me that that larger you get, the more economies of scale kick in and make the group buy scenario work.

The scenario I see playing out is that users get all excited about some new technology and buy it. Then it doesn't work. Then what? As long as the users are OK with me telling them they're on their own, I'm OK with them buying their own stuff. Deal?

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