It takes two to tango: Why IT will strike back.
The phrase of ‘power to the people’ and ‘you don’t need to deal with IT’ always sends chills down my spine about the implied ignorance and misconception of how enterprise function. And the stupidity of these startups / companies in believing, that they are oh so clever. I have three word for you: Firewalls. Data Mining. Come to think about it, it could hurt Google Search as well.
So this is a must read especially for any startup who tries to get customers from the enterprise, but also for everybody else: Google Sites the Next Sharepoint? Maybe Not….Why Google Apps Could Lose the Enterprise Market.
Oh heck, for the ones not willing to read through, just this is enough to say no to Google apps in the enterprise for anything:
By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.
And because normal users, like little children, more often than not have no clue what they are doing, nor what is good for them, IT has to take this role and make it work. Because while in part it of course is about power structure and control, it is so much more about running a business.
And sadly, the level of knowledge regarding IT even in top management is frightening (which in reality is not about IT but way more about processes, structure and such). If your business runs on ‘high tech’, you need to understand the principles of it and be able work with them, period.
The article has many valid points, but I’ like to pick this one for a comment:
A previous WSJ article also reported Dave Girouard, who runs Google’s enterprise unit, as saying this about what his company is doing: “We’re wrestling over who should have ultimate authority of the technology people use in the workplace. There’s no right or wrong answer so we have to respect everyone’s view.”
Let’s read between the lines of that last statement…Google doesn’t think IT should have the ultimate authority about the tools people use to do their jobs. There’s “power to the people,” (tech populism) and then there’s a total coup-d’etat. Google’s opting for the latter.
Network World agrees: “By killing the admin function, Google is trying to change the culture of software usage – the power structure, if you will. Taken to extremes, such a structure means that no longer will IT be the law enforcement officers of policy.”
Yes, I have worked in such an global IT department and guess what: Most of my jobs incorporated saying no to stupid requests from people who did not know better. Plus saying no to a few people who had a good idea, but it did not fit in the overall strategy. Plus saying no to even fewer people because the enterprise was not there yet. And I did not even work at the level of where the “do you know who I am” came into place.
Given, Google Apps are already far better integrated than anything else, and really suited for some companies of smaller sizes (if they do not care about the TOS), but in regards of enterprise it lacks so much functionality and integration.
Functionality set aside, I think Google is betting on the fact that they are big enough, and trustworthy enough to sneak their ways into the enterprise and then take over while developing. Because if many users do use it in a company, a corporation may say “oh what the heck, let’s just switch, they use it anyhow”.
Which will not happen. Because all IT has to do is print out the above TOS, go to the highest level, show some reports about people accessing Google Services (see data mining, easily done) and get an permission to shut down access at once. In the firewalls. By hard rules. And if necessary to all of google, including search.
It takes two to tango. So far, IT may still be leaning towards google’s “we do no evil.” But you should not underestimate the power IT really has.
On the flipside – and this is where you should read the comments to the article on ReadWriteWeb – all IT I talked to is swamped with one thing which is NOT their job: defining the business strategy in regards to processes. As I add as a comment on another commenter:
“The way I see it, if IT departments were doing their jobs (and some are) there would be no need to be having this discussion.”
For that users would need to be able to grasp, understand and work up the requirements in a way they can be incorporated and so that it functions and is suitable to the business.
In an ideal world, executives and their teams would be able to envision a strategy, structure processes, and then let them be implemented.
As sadly this job usually also falls into the hands of IT but is seldom budgeted to do that as well, they ARE doing their jobs – but we have this discussion because they are doing somebody elses job.
Back in the days there seems to have been somebody responsible for basically ‘organizing processes’. When I started working in 91, there still was the idea of this: somebody from a department would work with a third party to clarify processes and structure, then IT would come on board and deploy this.
Today, IT has the job of everything and that is not how it should be.
- figuring out what the hell the department wants
- translate that into structure / processes
- adapt this to be working with current global strategy
- get the budget (reminder: budgets are done at least a year before, years before for long term projects …)
- build up man power if necessary to get things done
- structure, develop, deploy
This simple list does not include all the runs with all kind of levels throwing a tantrums, the need for education on so many levels.
Being behind, perceived by the users of not doing their jobs, being swamped with other request, IT has no choice but to act like this with hard cuts and rules.
External companies small and big trying to sneak in and bypass IT will piss them off. Which is not necessary, because you CAN work with IT easily. And you should, because they will get you sooner or later.
Because working in IT means developing fine senses for even the smallest remarks of your users, seeing the pattern and connecting the dots.