Whenever people ask me what the most frustrating part of my job is, I always refer back to the toilet analogy. Like most modern adults, I long ago successfully completed training on the use and operation of a toilet. It is one small key to my success and mobility. I even know how to clean it and do minor fixes, such as replace the flapper. But if the time came to install a new toilet or if there were ever a serious issue with my toilet, I'd call in a plumber.
I believe most people are like me, they know they don't know too much about plumbing and would leave it up to a trained professional to practice their craft. So why is it that everyone who has ever successfully set up an AOL account or hooked up a DVD player believes that they are qualified to debate my every decision (the results of which I shall be held exclusively responsible for)?
Like every good IT professional, I have moral, ethical, technical, and often legal obligations to consider with every (seemingly) puny decision I make. No matter how customer-oriented an IT department or individual is, if they are doing their job properly, they are putting organizational health and safety first in every decision.
We are sorry if that leads to delays and the occasional no. I've personally sent many a long and passionate e-mail to my various IT overlords. I plead for policy exceptions and/or special consideration when such diversions were warranted, never hesitating to go to bat for one of my client's genuine needs. Good IT personnel hate "no" as much or more than you do.
Over time, we'll figure out the technical issues
Silverman argues for patience, saying that the issues that IT is rightfully concerned about can be addressed, but only with time and effort. Users need to be understand that and not demand immediate business support for whatever consumer technology has just arrived:
Today it's much easier than ever to join Mac and PCs to a common domain structure. Much of the security and management issues that concern IT about modern mobile devices will also be solved over time, perhaps through virtualization, policy management APIs and protocols, managed sandboxing, and/or other methods yet to be invented. Businesses that get it wrong will ironically help drive these solutions, as the risk becomes unavoidably apparent and the investments in addressing them grow.
Eventually, controlling a heterogeneous fleet of smartphones and ensuring compliance with law and rules will be as easy as administering the Windows monoculture of computers or as operating BES. Your IT guy will be the first to embrace and rejoice when one day these issues can be placed safely behind us.
Until that fateful day arrives, we must work together diligently and patiently so that we may travel past the potholes left by hasty device manufacturers to the new, cleaner section of roadway that will provide a smoother ride for all passengers. No matter what the platform or device, there are costs and obligations. Ignoring them doesn't make them go away.
This article, "Consumerization: The view from IT you may not like but need to hear," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Smart User blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.