Of course your company's employees don't hate the IT departement. Your company's staffers all love the IT department, right? Right? Right?!
Back in the dawn of time, or at least in the early days of the iPhone, I
attended an Interop conference in Las Vegas. It was a fascinating conference, and at one point I found myself in a big room with some 20 IT professionals of various ranks sitting around pounding Bud Light long-necks and debating the IT issues of the day.
As I said, the iPhone was still relatively new at this point, so inevitably one of the topics that came up was whether enterprises should support this hot new gadget. Not surprisingly, the sentiment was running about 9-to-1 against, with the majority thinking of the shiny new toy as just that, a toy.
"I won't allow anything on the network that can't be wiped clean remotely," explained one guy, as others muttered approval. Another viewpoint held that it made sense for IT to support only one mobile device on their network, and it damn sure wasn't going to be the iPhone.
Good points, sure, especially back then.
What bugged me, though, was that no one -- not one person -- bothered to ask what the business benefit might be of using iPhones in the enterprise. It didn't even occur to them to think about the possible benefits of the device to the users or to the company, just about the hassles it might cause them!
But then came the kicker. Someone asked what they would do if the CEO of the company asked for one. There was a moment of silent consideration until one guy said caustically: "Tell him, 'Don't be a child.' "
I'm no Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) fan boy, but at that point I just about spit
out my beer all over the fancy hotel ballroom carpet!
No wonder enterprise employees -- and sometimes CEOs -- hate the IT department. As this sad little episode makes clear, all too often the IT department is all about its own needs, and not so much about empowering both the company as a whole and individual users to be as productive as possible. So it's no surprise that many enterprise users feel that the IT department is not there to help them, but to stop them from doing their jobs as efficiently as possible. Or worse, that the IT department is there to complicate and delay the development projects they need to be competitive.
To go back to my example, I bet at this guy's company, not only do the employees hate the IT department, the "children" in the executive suite ain't too fond of the CIO either.
I'm not saying that CIOs can or should bow to the whims of every end user, even ones who outrank them. Or even that the CEO should have gotten a company iPhone.
But I am saying that this kind of conflict comes up all the time, and CIOs would do well to put the needs of their companies ahead of the comfort of their own departments. Or the answer to the title of this post is likely to be "yes." And that might be a bigger deal than you think.
How would your IT department have handled this situation? Is a little hate a good thing, or a sure sign of trouble?