Last week I wrote a post about why shadow IT develops in organizations. I've noticed that whenever I write about the changing face of IT or the notion of shadow IT, traditional IT pros who cut their teeth in a time of racking and stacking and total control take offense. The question to me is why some old school IT pros resist change - and loudly.
When you think about it, IT has never been a static business. First, there were mainframes and they required people with highly specialized skill to maintain them. Then we moved to mini computers, then client-server networks and web services. Through it all, IT has had to adapt and learn new skills.
Why is it then, in a profession that's pretty much guaranteed to change, do we see such resistance to the most recent change? Whether we are talking about shadow IT or cloud computing, BYOD or creating a partnership with business units, whenever I mention those concepts, I get comments from IT pros either in the post itself or on social networking sites who think I must be a blathering idiot for bringing these subjects up.
These people simply, for whatever reason, refuse to hear any stories about a different IT than the one they are used to right now. And the fact is, these folks are not just doing themselves a disservice by dismissing new ways of doing business, they are very likely doing the companies they work for a huge disservice too.
You can say a CIO is a fool for trusting his users as one commenter did on Reddit last week. But the fact is, that you have no choice but to work with your business users because we are leaving behind the world where you could simply dictate policy and users had little choice but to comply.
End users were never in a position to blow around you and buy their own mainframe, run their own mini computer or set up their own client-server network. They needed you because you had expertise they lacked.
But today, guess what, whether you admit it to yourself or not, unless you are willing to lock down your network, you can't stop people from provisioning their only software, hardware and services - because it's trivial for them to do it and they don't need your permission. And by the way, locking down the system in today's marketplace is a recipe for disaster in most cases.
And if you are acting as a roadblock or impediment to your users getting their work done, chances are they are going to find a way to do it - with or without you.
That's why it's so foolish to resist the change because by refusing to work with your business units, you are actually putting the business at greater risk. The CIO who has an open policy with a broad set of guidelines and smooth approval process can work with the business units.
As I wrote last week, when you have a good working relationship that doesn't involve simply saying no to everything that comes across your desk, when you come up against software that really is a bad idea, you can have a conversation with the users and they're going to take you seriously.
IT has always been evolving, so why fight it now? You will be better off finding out ways of embracing the change, rather belittling and fighting it to no good end.
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