It’s a bit like the old joke in business – it would be so easy if not for those annoying customers. The unfortunate fact of life, of course, is that customers and end users are not only a fact of life, they are the reason for being.
IT exists for one purpose only – to help the organisation fulfil its business functions, whatever that might be. Helping end users do their job is what IT is all about.
The thing is, a lot of IT professionals have a bit of a problem with this concept. Too many of them regard IT as an end in itself. They like playing with the toys and forget that the game has only one rule, which is that all must benefit the organisation.
All of this is particularly relevant now that we are seeing the rise of so-called BYOD – bring-your-own-device – computing. There is very real resistance from many in IT management about end users employing their own devices I the workplace.
People are getting very attached to their own smart phones, tablets and laptop PCs. They see no reason why they can’t use them at work. IT management is bewailing the many problems this causes – the security concerns, the lack of control, the management issues.
What really worries them, though few will say it, is that the boot has been transferred to the other foot. For decades end users have had to plead with IT departments to get the latest and greatest equipment. The IT department held the purse strings, and could control who had what.
Now, with mobile devices are so cheap and so powerful that anybody can buy them and use them how they want. They are often more functional than what people are forced to use at work, so of course they are going to be used there.
At the same time, partially because of the proliferation of these devices and the open communications infrastructure (it’s called the Internet) that supports them, the boundaries between work and play are breaking down. People want to look at their corporate data on the same device they use to read the news and play Angry Birds.
All this is the result of a remarkable phenomenon. For most of the history of the IT industry technological advances flowed from the corporation to the individual. Now the opposite is the case. The trend started with the PPC revolution of the 1980s, and has gathered pace ever since.
Most sexy new technologies are now designed for and marketed to individuals. Organisational IT is playing catch-up.
IT managers and others resisting the inroads of BYOD computing are on the wrong side of history. End user computing, and the end users, have won.
Get with the program.