Hatin’ the iPhone: When Did the I.T. Department Become the DMV of Corporations?

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When did the I.T. Department of most America corporations become the DMV of Technology?

If you really think about, the DMV is supposed to be at our service – much like most government agencies (WE pay their salary) – instead, not only they do not “serve” us, they loathe our very existence – that if it wasn’t for us “bothering” them, they would have a great jobs – and instead of helping us to get something resolved, they create a process and try and make us guess exactly WHAT THEY WANT. Don’t they have that backwards?

Now, I don’t mean to impugn EVERY I.T. department in every corporation in America and perhaps it’s just the last 6 companies I’ve worked for and the the couple hundred incidents I hear from other very senior management people – some low-level manager gets to tell a senior divisional executive VP, “it’s my way or the highway.”

Somewhere from sorting through the magic of selecting technology to make people and corporations more efficient, they have become the DMV of technology. There is a process and if you dislike it, I will simply cut you off and deny you the right to drive on “my” road.

Same with I.T. and their “road.” They are suppose to support marketing and sales to help them make more money or to facilitate the process of making more money but yet, why are decisions made from bottom up – decisions made because they decide what is easier for them and everyone has to follow in step?

Sure, they talk about “security” issues but isn’t everything in corporate America a security issue? Why let people or vehicles out of the building? There’s a greater chance the company truck is going to get into an accident after it leaves the company lot than if it’s parked there.

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I was working on a project with a very senior executive VP at a multi-billion company – he runs a division that generates nearly a billion in sales. Since he travels a lot, I thought the best way for him to be hands on during a final phase was for him to video chat but they refused to let him install chat software because “it was unsafe.” Instead I rented a Mac laptop with a camera for several weeks at an extra cost of hundreds of dollars so he could carry that around just because I.T. set “a policy” – and damn if ANYONE, and they mean anyone was going to be different. Never mind that he has an expense account in the tens of thousands and can handshake hundred million dollar deals – but MY GOD, LET HIM INSTALL CHAT software?!!

NFW!

Is this what runs through their mind?

“Think of all the extra work I might have to do. Several minutes to install and tweak a few settings – you think I’m here to serve you?? Think again! You will take what I dish out and you will like it and not question it!”

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Holy crap!

Somewhere along they line, they decided what ever would make their jobs easier was job 1 and who cares about employees who are generating revenue & sales – who cares what they want in terms of technology. Who gets to decide what passes muster in your company? The I.T. guy who just wants less work or someone who actually needs it?

eWeek published a list of “security” issues on the iPhone or really any phone … if you put the word PHOTOCOPIES or LASER PRINTER in front of it, then you realize how imbecilic scared-of-shadows bureaucrats think. By that measure, EVERYONE should go through five biometric log-ins to sit in a room with no printer and 10″ thick metal (and no ventilation system) – otherwise Ethan Hunt might drop through that.

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Are there places where security might be an issue, sure but if you don’t work for a three letter agency that flutters you on a regular basis, are these scaremongers hindering your business and making to less productive? (not to mention charging you a million dollars to make themselves look smart – just don’t really think through what they are saying).

At least another eWeek columnist dares to raise the issue that maybe I.T. should join the 21st century … but since most of eWeek’s readers are I.T. guys – he didn’t go too far in saying maybe they ought to do more than just run from new/different technology.

And of course, RoughlyDrafted covers the topic with great technical detail – you know us marketing types, it’s just a bunch of numbers to us, 51% is over 50%, that’s all we care about :-)

Just to note – we covered this briefly in our “iPhone Answers” post a few days ago.

Hopefully, I.T. will remember who they are supposed to support and not the other way around. FREEDOM! FREEDOM!

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14 Comments

Filed under Computing, Gadgets, iPhone, Marketing

14 responses to “Hatin’ the iPhone: When Did the I.T. Department Become the DMV of Corporations?

  1. mark

    At my company, they became the hated DMV when they cut Macs off the list of standard PC purchases, based on some half-assed analysis that said they could save money since management tracking software was Windows only. Although that software became Web-based six months later, they’ve still not let Macs back in.

  2. Peter

    Well…

    I worked in IT back in the 1980s, when personal computers were first becoming popular. Because the IT department at the time was geared more towards minicomputers and such, I ended up as the PC support guy.

    First issue, of course, is redundancy. You’re an important person, directly responsible for bringing in money to the corporation. It’s my job to support that. But when something goes wrong, how can I be expected to troubleshoot everything that you might have decided would be a really cool thing to have on your PC?

    Part of the issue that I dealt with as the IT support guy was people who figured that they should be able to do whatever they wanted with their company-assigned personal computer but didn’t want to take any responsibility. So when something went wrong, they bitched about how I wasn’t “supporting” them.

    Fun example from way back when: I had one department head that went out and bought an HP LaserJet after seeing some of the cool stuff that the guys with the Mac and the LaserWriter were doing. Of course, none of his software worked with PCL (HPs answer to PostScript) so the best he could get out of it were ugly monospaced fonts. It became my job to try to get the bloody thing to work with his software.

    Now if he’d come to me beforehand and said, “I want to be able to do this,” I could have helped him. But nope. He ran out and bought all the hardware and it was suddenly MY job to get it to work. Because, after all, I’m there to “support” the corporation, right?

    After awhile I just told people, flat out, you buy it without passing it through me, you support it. If you need help with it, you’re on the bottom of the list and you don’t rise above anybody who went through me first.

    Frankly, it’s a defensive thing.

    The the iPhone as a fun example. To support access to e-mail, I have to turn on IMAP on my Exchange server. How do I do that? How does it work? I’ll have to find that out so that when you call me up on a Saturday afternoon saying, “I can’t get my e-mail!” I can figure out what’s going on from my end. So there’s some training time.

    What are the security ramifications of turning it on? What Firewall holes might I have to open? What are the security ramifications of doing that? Again, I don’t know these things and it’s something that should be considered before I start flipping switches on the mail server.

    Now, let’s look at the business case. The iPhone is offering no more business functionality than the Treos that we currently support (and, arguably, less). So I should invest all this time and effort into making your iPhone work with the corporate e-mail system so you can be have less business functionality in a cooler package.

    Yeah, right.

    See the similarity with the above story? If you’d asked me beforehand to recommend a phone that you can use to access your corporate e-mail and calendaring and such, I’d have given a recommendation. But, no, you went out and bought something that doesn’t work with our infrastructure. So, therefore, I should change our infrastructure so that your shiny new iPhone will work?

    Yeah. Right.

  3. Kyle

    I also work in IT and definitely agree with Peter. Our staff has been cut in half in the last five years, yet we’re taking on more and more duties, and now even though we have a Blackberry solution, we’re supposed to drop everything to support your one-off Windows Mobile device because you want to watch TV on the thing? Or you call us Christmas Day because you’re going out of town tonight and your laptop won’t boot because the 40gb hard drive is full — of MP3’s? If only we could charge for each call users make to us, then we might be given the respect that a “profit center” is given in a public company and our budgets might not be cut so much because nobody sees the work we put in to making sure the core infrastructure “just works”.

  4. Jerry

    Oh please, Kyle and Peter. I really don’t care if it takes you 5 extra minutes to learn to support a new printer or phone or whatever. That’s really what your job is supposed to be. You’re service people. You’re the equivalent of the guy who empties the trash in my office or the guy that makes my coffee at Starbucks.

    You’re paid to be a support technician. It’s not like the job you do is difficult. I can do it myself, I just chose a different career path where I can do science in the lab. We have the same attitude as you two here–the IT “support” folks will only support what’s on their checklist, even if what I want to use is a far superior solution for the task at hand. Worse still is that even if I do offer to “support” the device myself, the information I need (ie, what the shared device IP addresses are) is obfuscated purposely. The Mac users at my lab basically just ignore the IT “professionals” here since they get in the way of science more than helping it.

    I repeat, you are service technicians, equivalent to the people that empty my trash and make my coffee.

  5. Our IT guy sent out a message stating that the number of PCs would remain static as there was no tech time available to support more machines. I can hardly wait to see his face when I show him my shiny new iPhone. :)

  6. Fredrik Olsson

    @Peter: yes, you probably should.

    If I find some equipment that makes me more productive, then it is your job to make it work. That is why you are getting paid. If you can not do it, or do not want to do it, then you should be replaced with someone who can/will.

    Only if someone goes out and buy something simply because it is shiny, and do not add anything tot he company, then your point is valid.

  7. Pingback: The iPhone: What We Know Now That We Didn’t Last Week « TWO A DAY

  8. jeff

    Since most IT folks are goose-stepping Microsofties and since Redmon failed to put switches in for supporting new stuff, the best answer is to hide behind the DMV model. Of course, the “security” folks are always at the top rung of the incompetent scale and their drool runs downhill to the IT department. Makes you wonder how some companies can be competetive with such thinking embedded in a core support infrastructure.

  9. Aedrin

    One word: Hypocrite.

    You are upset that IT is making decisions when it shouldn’t.

    So why are you making IT decisions when you shouldn’t?

    You have no clue what goes on outside of your shiny little world.

    @Neil Anderson

    I can imagine how amused they are as soon as you leave the room. Don’t think you’re superior, you’re just another person who is clueless.

    @Fredrik Olsson

    Here’s the problem with your whole concept. Most non-IT people’s opinion of what is helpful is wrong 80% of the time.

    @Jerry

    “I really don’t care if it takes you 5 extra minutes to learn to support a new printer or phone or whatever.”

    Then you won’t mind taking a few extra hours each day writing your own reports, will you? :)

    It’s your job after all!

    “I can do it myself”

    Ahaha, that one’s original.

  10. bjk21

    Jerry, so I take it your job is in “science” correct? Well then, you should be able to handle all “science” from astrophysics to geology. It is your job right… Your arrogance is only superseded by your ignorance.

  11. JD

    As an IT guy who tries to approach things in an enlightened way, I found your screed pretty interesting, if not very thoughtful. First thing: it’s not just IT departments, it’s EVERY department. The finance department says, “We decided to do blah blah stupid idea. Now you have to fix it, because you’re here to “support” us!” The marketing department says, “We need XYZ! No, we don’t care about the cost or the complexity! We NEED it, and that’s all that matters! Gimme gimme gimme!” And IT never asks for anything from them (OK, money from finance, but that’s not a personal request) while they seem to have a never-ending need for handholding.

    So why this problem? Here’s why: we think we’re behaving like capitalists, but really, we’re not. Internally, our companies are command economies, like little Soviet Russias. You don’t like your IT department? So what? What are you going to do, take your business to another, competing one? You don’t have a choice. Likewise, what do you offer them? You bug them with your irrelevant problems, but they get paid exactly the same (as individuals and as a division) whether they rush to fix your problem with a smile or whether they give you a fishy stare and tell you you’re not on the support list. And one of those options is a lot less effort than the other. Sure, they could do it “because they’re there to support the company!” but that works about as well as “for the glory of the Communist Party” worked in the USSR.

    Your comment that “it takes you 5 extra minutes to learn to support a new printer or phone or whatever” shows that you’ve never worked enterprise IT. OK, maybe it takes 5 minutes to learn to do the most very basic of support. But now when it comes time to upgrade stuff…oops, our standard procedure doesn’t work, because we have to account for 100 different models of everything. See, the Foomatic 3100 supports firmware revision 27, but the 3505 only supports up to revision 26, and that revision doesn’t support remote monitoring the same way, so now we have to have duplicate monitoring setups, which means we have to keep them in sync. And that means human error is a lot more likely, since you have to consider each item a special case. Oh, and when one breaks, we can’t just replace it with a generic model, because the capabilities are different; we have to have the specific one in stock. We have to document 100 different models of everything. We have to try and negotiate vendor support contracts and keep spare parts for 100 different models of everything. Hey, we have a shiny new service! Let’s roll it out to everyone…oops, Martha in HR can’t use it because her setup is not like everyone else’s, and now she’s going to bitch about that, too. When a new guy gets hired, he has to be trained on 100 different models of everything, and on how the monitoring procedures are different. We end up spending vastly more time and money and making a lot more errors – which people proceed to slam IT for – all because Fred from Marketing just HAD to have his spiffy new toy and sneered, “Doesn’t it take 5 minutes to learn to support this?”

  12. carnut913

    Jerry,
    You are a moron in a white coat, and your coatsleeves are too short.

    I’ve been on both ends of the stick, and I will say for the most part, I support the IT dept side of things. There are guys out there that dont want to lift a pencil to help you, but you will find that in all departments (Jerry obviously one of them)

    Most companies wont hire a business liason for the IT department, which would simplify a lot, and when IT tries to engage departments for feedback, no one has the time to help. They just want you to magically read their mind about what they need, and then fix whatever is broken.

    Jerry,
    I pray that IT takes away your computers and Accounting takes away your funding until you realize the value of the support structures of a company. Having those teams working efficiently to give you what you need lets you maximize your value proposition.

  13. PhilipM

    I have the privilege of having both kinds of support. The university central service is the DMV; my departmental support will try to make things work even if it’s not their preference because WE ARE THE CLIENTS.

    Guess who is more popular (and incidentally better able to attract competent staff). Guess whose service is more reliable.

    And guess who plays institutional politics more effectively to take control away from the guys whose work is what the users want.

  14. Roger

    I have a low opinion of IT guys who try to tell me how to do something I already know how to do, or tell me I can’t do something because they don’t want to support it (never mind that I don’t want THEM to support it).

    I worked in a department that had workstations spread over three continents. Unix based. We could handle these workstations remotely with about 4 hours of work a week. The company had an IT department, but because they were all Windows weenies, they stayed away from us like the plague. I had to laugh at their initial attempts to ‘upgrade us’ to windows boxes. It didn’t matter to them that the software we used didn’t run in windows. They tried to change our applications to something that THEY could administer but that none of US were trained on; an application that was a toy (autocad) compared to what we were using.

    They also tried to eliminate all macs in my company using the excuse that macs add too much network traffic! And THESE were computers that they didn’t administer because….they were Windows Weenies. Same issue — they tried to get the mac users to change to windows-based applications.

    See the problem?

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