Step into my office, fellow I&O professional, and join me on a brief but rich journey of imagination. Imagine you're a business jet sales sales rep. Now imagine that this morning you went to the garage where you keep your company car and for the second time in a month, the key fob won't open the doors and you have no other way in. You have a big airplane deal on the table with the head of an investment bank in the city in 1 hour, and it's a 50 minute drive. Just then…as if to mock your dilemma…a voice from the car says "I'm sorry Dave, you do not have access to this car. Would you like to request access from the car's owner?" "IT'S MY CAR", you shout! You think of your boss and what she's going to say: "You should have allowed more time, Dave. Remember, YOU are responsible for your quota. Everyone has the same challenges. It's up to YOU to think ahead."
After an hour, the door unlocks and the car's voice apologizes. "I'm very sorry for the inconvenience, Dave. The motor pool coordinator forgot to add your name to the list of sales reps with company cars after the sales re-org last week. It has been fixed now." $%&#! you yell. You missed the client meeting and the deal, and you will also now miss your quota. To make sure it NEVER happens again, you start making other transportation arrangements. In fact, you think the new Land Rover Evoque fits your style and perhaps you don't need the company car after all. You're being paid on results, and excuses — no matter how legitimate — don't count.
Sound absurd? Why? A similar set of circumstances happens to people with their company computers every day. How many times have we tried to use a SharePoint site or other resource only to find out we don't have the rights to do some basic, but critical thing because someone else owns it, and we don't have the time to wait 24 hours until they see the request and make a decision? How many times are we willing to hit the same dead-end before we find another way? Uptime of the system is not the issue…it's access and convenience!
It reminds me of the proverbial death of a thousand paper cuts. It's how business slows down, and bureaucracy creeps in through the cracks in the walls. It's also how consumerization goes from a smolder to a forest fire. Should there be any question in our minds why people are turning to DropBox, forwarding e-mail to their personal accounts and becoming adamant about bringing their own computer to the office?
In 2012, aligning with the business will mean getting out of the way and finding ways to help employees choose, unblock and secure technologies they find most productive and effective for their roles. It will mean accepting that we as I&O professionals (and I&O Leaders) will have to change our mindsets, and that tightening our grip on all of the corporate resources and endpoints…the tools that knowledge workers rely on the most…is only going to cost us security and control, if not our competitiveness as an organization.
Now imagine a future…sometime beyond 2012 (2015?)…in which IT crosses a tipping point, where its primary function becomes assessing and brokering external services. If we accept that this is the direction that the industry is rapidly going, what steps should we take now to be first, and use this change to our companies' competitive advantage? How many of you are talking about IT as a competitive advantage in your staff meetings? Should you be? What does it mean for major initiatives this year like Hosted Virtual Desktops? Should you be doing it yourself or buying it from a service provider who offers greater experience and economies of scale?