Commentary
8/12/2008
07:03 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
Commentary

Whose Side Is IT On, Anyway?

Every person working in technology should be asking themselves one key question: Who do I really work for? The company? Or the IT department?



Every person working in technology should be asking themselves one key question: Who do I really work for? The company? Or the IT department?Because let's face it, these days you often have to choose between polices and actions that make life easy and secure for the IT department, and other policies and actions that put enormous stress on IT but hold the promise of significant business benefit for the company as a whole.

This damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't technology conundrum isn't new, of course. Graybeards will remember discussions like this when PCs first snuck into the business world, pushing out easier-to-manage mainframes and minicomputers. Well, we all know which side won that battle.

But now the rise of consumer technology, Web 2.0, social networking, Web mail, cloud computing, Software as a Service (SaaS), and other trends are once again raising the stakes.

Do IT folks seek stability for themselves and fight like hell to keep powerful but disruptive technologies -- from iPhones to instant messaging -- out of the company, citing legitimate concerns about manageability, standards, and security? Or do they make the risky attempt to surf the wave of change by getting out in front of these changes and doing their best to cope with inevitable -- and often serious -- challenges and problems. And just hope that if the silicon does hit the fan, they will somehow emerged unscathed.

A tough call, to be sure. But a bit easier for growing companies. Small companies must stay nimble to compete with the economies of scale enjoyed by the big guys. And the whole point of working for a growing company is the opportunity to take risks and move quickly.

IT folks looking for a boring, safe ride should go get jobs at the telephone company.

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