Business users often view IT SVM as a bottleneck to getting new technologies that will make them more personally and professionally productive and that also will help ensure their firm’s competitiveness. Affordable mobile technologies like smartphones (Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, Apple’s iPhone, and Google’ Android are the most popular operating systems), cellular data air cards, network-connected PCs and tablets, etc. make it a lot easier (and hence more tempting than ever) to bypass IT’s seemingly archaic and slow-moving sourcing practices.
As a result, employees are increasingly bringing their own technology into the workplace. Forrester calls this trend “tech populism,” and it’s quickly gaining momentum. It might be a personal laptop sitting on the desk next to the corporate PC, or a personal smartphone that’s loaded up with self-purchased applications and freeware, either or both connecting to the employer’s guest WiFi Internet connection.
Additionally, more and more, traveling employees are leaving their business laptop at the office or at home — relying instead either on their smartphone for simple email access during one- or two-day trips, complemented by personal thumbdrive memory sticks onto which reference and presentation documents have been downloaded and will be viewed (and possibly manipulated or transferred between multiple noncorporate devices) using a hotel, public kiosk, customer, colleague, or partner’s PC. So much for IT’s security policy enforcement! If a file or document can be downloaded onto a personal external drive, what happens to it afterward is at the discretion of the employee –- who after all usually is just trying to be more productive while taking better advantage of easier-to-use hardware and software tools than those provided by the company.
This does NOT mean that IT SVM is becoming irrelevant. Even as tech populism gains momentum, IT clearly cannot abandon its responsibility to feed the alligators in the moat around the castle (fire) walls. Nor can it give up on the importance of pushing for the most appropriate and standardized technology platforms. IT also has responsibilities that won’t go away for ensuring corporate compliance with government regulations related to ensuring information privacy, confidentiality, and security compliance.
In light of communications technology advances that enable easy workarounds for employees trying to apply widely available consumer tools to be more productive, IT SVM needs to shift gears and work harder to change its role vis-à-vis the end user community. It should strive to become a facilitator (instead of an obstacle) of easy collaborative information exchanges between IT and the business and also among the different user communities across the organization. SVM must be (and be perceived by users as) proactive instead of reactive. Instead of just evaluating and filling requisitions and placing orders with suppliers while business users wait and wonder how long it will take to receive what they’ve asked for and need to do their job effectively, SVM should push out scheduled updates to business users about the status of technology requests. Additionally, SVM should provide online links via the employee portal to service catalogs that list approved company-paid applications and equipment and also lists employee-registered and paid for personal software that has been checked and approved by IT for download onto corporate-liable devices.