Bring your own device (BYOD) and cloud are often seen eroding the powerbase of the IT department. As a result there is quite a lot of resistance to both of these concepts from IT professionals. But while this is understandable, it is misguided and unwise in the long run.
BYOD, for example, is seen as weakening the power of the IT team because the department no longer gets to decide what hardware gets bought or used in the office. That’s bad for a couple of reasons, according to the naysayers.
Firstly, BYOD means no more chance for the IT manager to browse through laptop catalogues and daydream (and makes it much harder to keep those pesky Macs out, too). Secondly, it means the IT department loses what was a very handy bargaining chip when it comes to negotiating with awkward end users: because BYOD means IT is now the source of shiny new toys, users have no incentive to play nicely in the hope that IT will give them a decent laptop the next time around.
Similarly, cloud is seen as undermining the authority of the CIO and the IT department by reducing headcount: services in the cloud means fewer people on the ground maintaining infrastructure. And in the world of corporate politics it is never a good thing for the CIO to have fewer employees than the next executive. After all, who wants to be the CIO if it means sitting in a room alone re-reading your contracts with cloud providers?
Fortunately CIOs are taking the opposite perspective. Rather than hold onto their servers with a deathly grip they are happy to hand them over, and rather than mandating what hardware appears on the desks, they are willing to let end users choose.
I recently chaired a CIO event where most seemed positive about the impact of BYOD and cloud on the IT organisation. They saw embracing such strategies as a way of making it easier for the CIO – and by extension the IT department – to be taken seriously by the rest of the business. Not as a disaster, but as a new beginning.
“IT is no longer considered to be only the people who provide your desktop or who fix the server,” said one CIO. By letting go of this infrastructure the IT department can be seen as embracing change, instead of protecting old roles. Rather than reducing the authority of IT or the CIO, cloud and BYOD, when used well, can enhance their reputation.
Steve Ranger has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic. An award-winning journalist, Steve writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture, and regularly appears on TV and radio discussing tech issues. Previously he was the editor of silicon.com.