The new year brings with it a fresh opportunity to turn the page on bad habits. For many, this means resolutions geared toward regaining control over areas of their lives that have too long been ignored. For IT, 2010 offers a different twist for overburdened organizations: to get out of the client-control business by embracing end-users and loosening some of the less essential IT controls.
In a world where most people use computers at home, where the Internet is a basic medium for everyone, and where younger generations often understand the latest technology better than IT does, maybe it's time for IT to shed its feudal "castle and moat" mentality and enter the 21st century of federation and globalization by giving end-users more freedom to choose the tools they use to do their jobs.
The trend is clear: As workforces become more distributed and reliant on contractors and employees who stay just a few years -- and as companies start eliminating permanent workspaces for some employees -- getting out of the client management business will become necessary for IT.
Yes, ceding control can be scary business. But if done right, loosening your grip on end-user tools can free IT to better control what actually matters: information and connectivity.
Here are five seemingly heretical resolutions that will make IT's job easier in the long run, while allowing employees to work in familiar, preferred environments that make them more productive.
IT resolution No. 1: Let employees use any PC they want. Give your end-users a budget so that if they want something really pricey they pay the difference. And if they choose something basic, let them use the leftover budget for other tech aids such as widescreen monitors or special input devices. Offer a standard option they can get preconfigured to IT's specifications. Certify IT-supported apps for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux -- InfoWorld has heard that when employees get to choose their own computer, as many as a third choose Macs, so be ready for that choice. For example, you might certify Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac, IBM Lotus Symphony for Linux, Exchange for Windows, Apple Mail for Mac, and Evolution for Linux, and Firefox for all three platforms. Be able to support these apps in terms of their core features relevant to business use.
Those employees who opt for their own PCs get to support those PCs themselves for typical user issues such as updating the OS and apps, issues with nonstandard apps, and so on. Those who use your standard configuration get standard IT support.