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Is Going Rogue Good? June 10, 2014

Posted by Peter Varhol in Technology and Culture.
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The June 9th Wall Street Journal included an article on the value of company staffers “going rogue” on IT. It used the usual arguments that employees will find a way to get their jobs done, with or without the help of IT. Most employees make an effort to keep to the organizational rules, which can be frustrating when the rules are slowing down or stopping progress. A few go off the reservation in order to bypass the frustration, finding their own solutions and surreptitiously installing them or using their home computers to get their work done.

But is that good for the company at large? One of the principal reasons for the existence of IT departments is to vet software for utility, quality, usability, and security, in order to protect the interests of the company. Using un-vetted software is an open invitation to compromise one or more of these goals.

But often IT goals seem to be at odds with employee productivity. I use Dropbox almost daily. I just rebuilt my personal website, using the freely-available BlueGriffon web design tool. I book travel on the airline’s website. Of course, some of these activities are for personal reasons, but I have done similar things while employed at various companies, too, as well as for my own business.

All too often, corporate IT is more in the business of making their own jobs manageable, rather than enabling those in the company who are supporting the business. IT could provide homegrown solutions like Dropbox that are within the company firewall and as secure as any other corporate software product. Or it can vet these tools as they become aware of their utility within the organization, even before users even start asking for it.

I’m sure there are proactive IT departments out there; I’ve just never encountered one. As organizational management adopts BYOD as a way to cut costs while increasing employee satisfaction, IT needs better strategies to help workers become more effective. My last employer required that I agree to have my personal phone wiped if I couldn’t remember my unlock password. Instead, I declined to use it for work email.

Employees wouldn’t have to go rogue if IT thought out a better balance between company and employee goals. Regrettably, I’m not holding my breath for that to happen.

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