Tue 27 Jul 2010
So as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, here are the 4 techniques I had to learn and embrace as I dealt with the changing attitudes and more sophisticated IT skill sets of our user base.
Technique #1: Let go of the status quo. I’ve talked about this technique in previous blogs and it relates well to IT. As users become more tech savvy and want a voice and a choice in technology decisions, IT and IT leaders need to re-think their role within their organizations. It will be increasingly difficult in an IT consumer world to control all aspects of IT. As that consumer world bleeds into the corporate fabric, keeping the 2 worlds separate becomes a challenge. As the tech savvy user base in my organization began to ask more questions and wanted more involvement on IT related matters, I decided to make IT more transparent instead of keeping it as a mysterious “black box”. The more we shared our issues and our approach with our users, the more supportive they became and the more willing to accept the IT decisions we made. By being open and transparent, we ,in turn, received some good suggestions and ideas from users some of whom would have never ventured forth an opinion in the past. Instead they would have continued to bypass IT policies as they had always done. Break the “black box” habit and make IT more transparent and accessible to your users.
Technique #2: Create a Business Lab. As the IT user community begins to introduce choice and suggestions on IT solutions, IT will need to be aware of these solutions and understand them so that the risks of the solutions being presented can be appropriately measured. That means IT has to have a way to experiment and tinker with those solutions and a process to evaluate them. The use of a lab is not new to IT departments since they are often used to test new versions or upgrades of IT components from operating systems to software to productivity tools. This lab is different in that users are part of the experiment. We created Innovation Labs where IT partnered with business IT savvy users in evaluating IT solutions that were suggested by the users themselves. By having a fluid process in place to manage the requests and the involvement of IT and the user community both sides could objectively review the solution. The appropriate people like the risk and security folks could be called upon to be part of the review as well. Sometimes, the solutions passed the litmus test, other times they didn’t. The important thing is that the lab facilitated an independent and unbiased review of the solution by all concerned parties.
Technique #3: Think beyone IT. For years, IT groups would protest the fact that the user community did not always embrace the IT solutions it provided them. As the business urged us to become more business savvy we longed for the day when the business users would become more IT savvy. Well guess what? The time has come. Through the collaborative spirit of Millennials I quickly began to see how tech savvy our users had become. I realized that my team could use these IT savvy users to expand our reach. We began to create IT Advocacy Groups within the business teams. These were people we called “friendlies” (it’s tough to break the friend vs. foe mentality, isn’t it?) and they were thrilled to help us with anything having to do with IT. The business teams, in turn, used them to funnel ideas or issues relating to IT. Instead of closing them off, we were able to increase our IT army beyond our headcount. The IT advocates loved being involved, loved sharing their IT ideas and loved serving as the bridge between their teams and IT. Win-win.
Technique #4: Push your Vendors. As I began to apply the techniques above, I realized that the vendors of IT solutions were not always aware that IT was becoming more user driven. In order for IT to properly manage the risks and security issues behind the consumerization of IT that was already occurring, we needed the help of vendors. We needed them to focus on making solutions more secure, to understand that what was developed on the consumer side would eventually bleed onto the corporate side and that in doing so, more stringent standards had to be applied. We began to work closely with our vendors to raise awareness and foster in them an understanding that personal and corporate IT convergence would take place and they needed to factor that into the roadmaps of their respective solutions. What might have been acceptable on the consumer side could possibly fail on the corporate side and this had bottom line implications for the vendors.
As I became comfortable utilizing these techniques, it opened the door for more experimentation and I became more comfortable in challenging or at least questioning my old ways from the old days. What about you? Will you utilize these techniques and challenge your old ways from the old days?