Zen IT for Demanding Employees

By Deborah Perelman  |  Posted 08-13-2007

What do mainframes and networks have in common? Centralized control, and these command and control structures have long assured IT professionals that the technology game is played on their terms.

Yet, in the age of the consumerization of technology, the effectiveness of centralized IT control has slipped. In fact, a report released by the Yankee Group Research Aug. 6, a Boston connectivity research firm, found that 50 percent of employees felt that their personal technology is more advanced than workplace technology.

Furthermore, "Zen and the Art of Rogue Employee Management" argues, banning employees from using consumer technology at work creates an endless game of whack-a-mole; and the only way to win is to manage both the technology and the insistent employee.

Consumerization of technology is one of the five things—including content, client, connectivity and collaboration—that the Yankee Group argues will be a nightmare for IT departments, as they create maintenance and support problems that easily overwhelm resources. IT can fight this tooth and nail, or it can concede and adopt a Zen-like approach which will give control to users through a cooperative care model, reduce IT's burden, and improve internal customer satisfaction.

This approach, as expressed by Yankee Group Program Manager Joshua Holbrook, is the healthiest way forward, as migrating to a co-op model requires IT to recognize that its current support model isn't suited for an environment where consumer technologies work side-by-side with enterprise applications and devices.

"As ubiquitous connectivity takes hold, consumers are driving more innovation and technology trends in the enterprise," said Holbrook.

"Enterprises can't avoid consumerization or implement traditional approaches to managing consumerization in the enterprise because it's failing. It's time for a new operating model; an IT care co-op is the solution."

But first, IT departments must recognize that traditional approaches to managing consumerization are failing, whether banning all consumer technologies, supporting early adopters and becoming overwhelmed with help requests or acknowledging these technologies but letting them run unchecked.

In a Zen IT environment, staff that was once focused on fixing all the stuff that's broken could focus instead on fostering communities that enabled users to fix their own stuff. Instead of dictating policies down the organization, Zen IT would guide the policy in the right direction. IT's tools would shift from e-mail, telephone and IM to social networks, wikis, blogs and tagging. IT would no longer be a primary and sole resource with a hierarchical structure, but a secondary or tertiary one, with a networked structure.

Perhaps most relevantly, IT's state would be dynamic and changing, rather than stable and static.

"Diverting some customer support responsibilities to end users unburdens resources from customer support so they can be reallocated to more strategic priorities," explained Holbrook.

"Care co-op IT is for CIOs who are pressured to do more than keep things running… The only way for CIOs to transform their business is to reallocate resources."