The role of IT Dept in Web 2.0 Evolution

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    Henry Brown

    Although this blog commentary is discussing cloud computing believe that this OPINION could have a much wider impact, especially since cloud computing has been described as the backbone of Web 2.0 by some.

    I am NOT convinced that the MAJORITY of IT departments are in fact ready to engage in sharing of “the power” and I suspect that because all have not learned all the lessons we could from the past we are failed to repeat our mistakes.

    IF you interest lies in this area MAKE sure you take the time to read the significant number of comments attached to the blog

    Don’t Take IT Out of the Cloud Equation
    Author: Tom Nolle, software engineer and founder of CIMI Corp.

    IT management has gotten a reputation for opposing cloud computing and also for enforcing draconian restrictions on Internet use. Given this, it’s not surprising that public cloud proponents and even Internet advocates could think that by breaking up IT, barriers to adoption of Internet-based computing services and to Internet use would fall.

    That might happen if the line-of-business departments that inherited the old powers of IT could do a better job of managing computing and IT on their own. My research says they can’t.

    Let’s start with computing projects. I’ve done surveys of IT projects for years, and of 1,130 projects surveyed since 2002, there were 381 where business management dominated planning. Among those projects, the failure rate as reported by the companies themselves was almost 50 percent. Among the IT projects where professional IT planning dominated, the failure rate was only 17 percent.

    Giving line departments authority to launch their own public-cloud-hosted projects would likely only link cloud computing services to projects more likely to fail.

    That doesn’t even consider issues like security and compliance. Since 2002, of the enterprise projects I surveyed as noted above, 13 percent failed security/compliance audits. Almost all of these were projects dominated by line-department planning.

    One company said they’d actually been at risk for regulatory penalties because of what had been done. Three quarters of those who said their projects failed security audits called the risk created by the failures “serious.”

    Will line managers accept responsibility for their bad planning? Not likely; they’ll blame the Internet.

    Putting Internet use at work under line managers has an even worse impact. Just 7 percent of the IT managers I surveyed for the 1,000-plus projects cited above are in favor of shutting down all Internet access for workers, but 47 percent of line managers in the same companies were in favor of that.

    Whether the issue is email, IM, and social network access at work or from a company laptop or cellphone, at least twice as large a percentage of line managers as IT managers were in favor of a total ban. These managers are worried about security, of course, but they’re more worried about lost time — despite my survey data that says employees goof off about the same amount of time no matter whether it’s chatting with friends at work, playing handheld games, reading a book, or surfing the Web.

    Another reason line managers want to block the Internet is that they don’t see any benefits from providing Internet access. Ask line managers about the value of the Internet to their workers, and less than one fifth think it has any. Contrast that with IT management, where more than three quarters believe the Internet helps workers in their job activity, builds new skills, and keeps them informed about trends and developments that could impact their work.

    There also seems to be a correlation between the strength of CIO and IT influence in a company and the company’s overall attitude toward the Internet. In the companies where CIOs say they have the strongest influence on business planning, line management values the Internet at three times the average level — almost as much as the IT management values it. In the small number of companies where IT has in fact been distributed among line departments, the Internet is considered valuable by less than 10 percent of business management.

    Enterprise IT organizations aren’t the enemies of the Internet, or even of the cloud. In fact, their support of the Internet may be essential for creating awareness of the Internet’s value among business executives in general. Enterprise IT support is clearly essential if we expect SaaS and cloud-computing projects that involve the Internet to succeed.

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