IT Strategy and User Behaviour – Matching the User Agenda
Are you using you IT strategy to set your user behaviour? Or are they setting yours?
As I was discussing in the blog entry here last week, a good CIO will use his IT strategy not just for tool and service selection but to guide cajole and generally point his users towards better IT usage. A good IT strategy is holistic and will incorporate processes and usage, not just the technology and applications used.
Last week we looked at how a user community wedded to their email has resulted in bad practices for sharing data throughout the organisation. This lead to explosive growth of storage and multiple copies and versions of every document. Introducing collaboration technologies to slowly adjust user behaviours away from email is a long debated topic in IT and has been a theme throughout the last 5 years. The transition from private to shared documents, email to message boards and share-points or wikis has been a slow and organic process. However, it is not the technology that is the issue, the challenge lies in changing peoples behaviour to adopt to these practices. I recommend reading the confused of calcutta blog for all of those interested in the revolution that information sharing is going through. Many years ago I was working with the blog’s author – JP – and he was radically suggesting that the bank we worked for adopted Facebook as an alternative to email. He based this on the fact that it was more efficient to publish messages on a wall or personal home page and collaborate by sharing (on a forum or another shared area), rather than emailing all the time. He was right, but the organisation was not ready for the change and even today that organisation remains glued to email, with only a small amount of data sharing and collaboration penetrating the conciousness.
Let us look at other areas that are the subject of disruptive change right now in the IT strategic portfolio. Certainly the topic of sourcing for projects and services remains a very controversial area: to out source or not outsource, to off shore or not – both are big questions and I promise to return the these in future blogs. Likewise, the big topic of lease versus buy is getting bigger every day – branded under the new name “Cloud”, but it amounts to the same decision . Some of my earlier blog entries discuss this at length, for example this one relating the Cloud to coffee on a colleagues website. All these are interesting but another hot topic that is clearly a behaviour shift is BYOD – Bring You Own Device – which is one for today’s blog.
Whereas my previous example on collaboration tools is a paradigm shift for users that needs to be pushed from the centre, the subject of BYOD is more the opposite – users want it but IT does not (in a lot of cases). But why not!? Surely having every person supply and bring their own hardware, whether it be phones, laptops or even desktops has got to save on the hardware bill. It makes users happier and with increasing outsourcing of services makes inclusion of third parties easier (I wrote this blog on my clients PC paid for by them not my laptop paid for by me!) On the surface it looks like a win-win but resistance in many IT departments remains. IT is bound by its processes, audit concerns, security, worries of not being able to support unknown hardware, concerns over viruses etc. Simply put, the list of excuses not to allow BYOD seems endless.
It is not my job to make the decision on BYOD for any organisation but I strongly recommend that any CIO has this kind of topic on their strategic decision agenda and has a hard look at how it could help achieve the business objectives, even if there are risks to manage.
So in conclusion a good It strategy will look at technology and processes, it will encompass revolution and evolution, and most important it will listen to the market place and users to reflect the changes and demands.