Time to set end users free

Time to set end users free

IT departments can have more money to invest in strategic business applications if CIOs let end users provision themselves, says the former CIO of Motorola

How would you like to free up 10 percent to 20 percent of your total IT budget to spend on other things? It's not a pipe dream. But to achieve that benefit you're going to have to give up control of end-user services.

You have probably read about Generation Y and their technology tools. They want flexibility to connect anywhere, anytime, anyplace. But such needs are not only those of the incoming workforce. I supported one facility where the engineers went outside the building to get on the Internet because the firewalls prevented them from working collaboratively with external partners.

There are also dynamics in the marketplace that make end-user services a bad investment for large enterprises. Individuals can almost always buy more cheaply than what enterprises negotiate. Enterprise applications are increasingly Web-based making them accessible from any device. Wireless networks are becoming more pervasive, secure and open. Web 2.0 and public social networking sites are getting duplicated within enterprises. Consumer e-mail services are meeting the increasing privacy and discovery demands from consumers. Better self-healing technologies make end-user self-service a reality. So why does your enterprise IT group bother trying to stay a step ahead when you can achieve both freedom and low-cost, secure environments by letting go?

To Read More, See: Gen Y Tech Tools May Not Translate to the Real World and Is It Time For Employee-Provisioned Hardware Programs?

The days when control and single standards were required to lower costs and be secure are gone. You can achieve both freedom and low-cost, secure environments by letting go. Employee-provisioned hardware is a first step (Is it Time For Employee-Provisioned Hardware Programs?),but employee-provisioned end-user everything is more like it. CIOs must prepare for an environment where end-user services will be in the public domain.

Clearly this won't happen over night. You need to plan your architecture in order to take advantage of tools for PC virtualization and to secure important data. You will need to allow your employees to work from anywhere, an issue that is more HR than IT. Legal issues will come up and be tested, and we will all learn together.

The advantages of letting go of end-user services could be huge. Think of an IT organization that has no desk-side break-fix, no LAN ports, no device procurement, no corporate e-mail, no employee information sites, no enterprise licenses for client software, no server farms for end-user applications. I'll bet it's 10 percent to 20 percent of your total IT budget: money that can be used for customer-facing applications, for predictive analytics and for transforming strategic business processes. Not to mention getting rid of the dissatisfaction that end users feel about IT over the little things.

So think about a different future. If you don't let your end-user services go, your users just might do it without you! Patty Morrison is CEO of Mainstay Partners. She is a former executive vice president and CIO with Motorola.

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