What IT can learn from Steve Jobs

Next-gen IT leaders beware: When it comes to winning converts, playing it safe isn't safe at all

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In Bill Snyder's recent post, "Smartphones storm the enterprise -- and no one gets hurt," Nike's Art King, Global Infrastructure Architecture Lead, nailed why fighting BYOT is so bad for the IT/business relationship: "Users say to me, 'Why is everything I do in my personal [computing] life like snapping my fingers, but everything at work takes years?'"

King, I suspect, understands that answering, "Here's why," is exactly the wrong way to go about things. The right response is to ask everyone in IT, "What can we do to change this equation?"

No question: IT's challenges are a lot more complicated than setting up a Wi-Fi router at home, even if the home expert faces challenges as a consumer, like how to open another port and enable another service so that the family Slingbox will work. But that's a problem to solve, not a reason to say no.

The hidden payoff of BYOT

Snyder's post on BYOT initiatives at Nike and Cisco shows that saying yes to user tech isn't reckless, and it doesn't have to come with a prohibitive price tag. But the real upside might be the ability to enhance IT's unique selling proposition for larger initiatives down the line.

Think of it this way: A BYOT policy, if handled well, will significantly improve relations between IT and the business. This enhanced relationship will facilitate smoother, more successful business change initiatives. While there are a few dots to connect, this business benefit is decidedly real.

Not real enough to be convincing by itself, though. Just because BYOT does no harm, that doesn't make proving the benefits at all easy.

That's why it's so important to couple your employee-owned tablet and smartphone initiative to policies geared toward fueling user-driven innovation. That's what can send cash to the bottom line in a hurry. Doing so will get IT a lot more positive attention than trying to keep iPhones from coming in the door.

This story, "What IT can learn from Steve Jobs," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bob Lewis's Advice Line blog on InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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