The IT Standardization Challenge

IT_professionalThere are several reasons why IT departments around the world seek to enforce standardization when it comes to how their people use technology, particularly desktop and laptop computers. The list runs the gamut from concerns about network security to legal compliance to corrupt software downloads.

Make no mistake: IT has a wide array of issues and challenges to contend with when it comes to keeping its organizations productive and safe with minimal technology downtime. However, how many times have you heard someone say they felt strangled by the technology noose around their neck? Gary Hemel of the Wall Street Journal Management 2.0 blog published an interesting post on the topic last November that posed the critical question: “Do IT staffers really believe that conscientious, committed employees turn into crazed, malicious hackers when you give them a bit of freedom over their IT environment?”

This question surfaced again earlier this month after we came across Jennifer Bélissent’s post that discussed her enthusiasm and excitement over her brand new Toughbook laptop though she hasn’t yet been allowed to use it to its fullest.  It’s a great example of a credible user (Jennifer is a respected analyst with Forrester Research) who is patiently waiting for IT to flip the switch.

Organizations are finding that when people are given technology that is purpose-built for their jobs, they’re better able to perform those jobs. PCSC president, Rance Poehler recently addressed this topic, as well as the need for more flexibility in device selection, as a means to drive real efficiencies and cost savings within organizations.

A recent IDC Worldwide Mobile Worker Population Forecast found that nearly 75 percent of the U.S. workforce will perform jobs outside the traditional office space by the end of 2011. What’s more, there are a growing number of organizations allowing employees to use their own personal notebooks. A recent survey from Gartner cited that 43 percent of respondents have specific policies that allow the use of employee-owned devices. With the majority of our workforce being mobile and many of them using their own personal equipment, IT professionals will necessarily move away from strict standardization and towards an era where device selection is tied to the workflow, needs and environments of their end users.

The shift away from a sole-sourced corporate standard is already happening. We applaud those organizations that are helping to change that mindset.