September 04, 2011 - 2:45 PM
Everyone enjoys a little argument and no more so than in the technology industries. We love to talk about which technology is better, which are the right methods, and which future concept will be a winning reality. Most recently, and on the AIIM blog especially, the leading arguments have been around Cloud vs. On-Prem, SharePoint vs. Non-SharePoint, Ease-of-Use vs. Professional Services. Usually when there is an argument, I quickly pick a side and start throwing punches. However, I’ve realized that we are ALL WRONG!
Not only are our points completely wrong, we are arguing the wrong thing. Is the contention really SharePoint vs. Box.net or Mobile Capture vs. Document Scanners or Cloud vs. Physical Hardware? Not really. The really contention lies between IT and End-Users.
Want more arguments? Follow #ECMJam on twitter.
Note, almost none have to do with IT and end-users working together
What End-Users want is to solve a problem, or increase efficiency of a common task. Not only that, they want to solve it without spending time on the solution. Even technical end-users don’t want to waste more brain cells then they have to on technology. Why? Because it’s not their job. We are all spread thin with our day jobs, so adding just one more thing unrelated to core duties is very frustrating.
On the other hand, IT is paid to handle complexity, the more complex the better. IT puts the technology pieces together, and makes things work. Once they build something, their job is to maintain the status quo until a new approach arrives. Not only that, within IT are specialties, those who are great with hardware, those who are great with a particular software package, and those who are great with network security. The more proprietary the technology, the more specialized the admin, the more security. At least for now…
End-Users are left discovering very convenient technologies in the consumer space, and wondering, WHY THE HELL can’t I do this at work? They have an itch, they download an app, and itch is scratched. This makes easy to use applications, limited hardware, and basic UI an ever increasing demand.
So even though I’m sure all enterprise software packages can be formed into an easy to use solution, how long does it take? How involved do the end-users need to be in the process? The answer to these questions is contradictory. The longer it takes, the more end-users hate it, dead on arrival. Avoid the end-users, create something they don’t need. Involve the end-users, increase the deployment time. It’s like one of those metal puzzles I used to buy at “Cracker Barrel” just try to get them apart with ease.
End-users see IT as a hurdle, and seek “underground” technologies to avoid them.
IT see’s end-users as a nuisance, and business use cases a great way to delay deployment.
Yes End-Users vs. IT is cliché. But every year the “underground” technologies available to End-users increase substantially. Ultimately this increases their frustration of “WHY NOT”, promotes slower adoption of heavy enterprise technologies, and makes IT and the vendors they support even bigger enemies.
So in the end who do you think will win? I will go out on a limb and say end-users. Why? Because what they do is more closely tied to the core business activities then IT. Closer tie to business activities means closer tie to revenue. Closer tie to revenue means power.
It does not have to be this way. IT and enterprise software vendors need to focus more on productivity enhancement, and business use case. IT should once again be more cutting edge then their end-users. Solving problems end-users did not even know they had. By doing so transforming their value from a specialty in obscurity into a science of efficiency. And as a community we need to get over ourselves and realize:
Box.net vs. SharePoint = End-Users vs. IT
Mobile Capture vs. Document Scanners = End-Users vs. IT
Cloud vs. Physical Hardware = End-Users vs. IT
Only then can we start considering some startling things. Such as combining on-prem and cloud environments to maximize the benefits of both, picking the most efficient capture method for the job, and integrating “heavy” ECM solutions with ad-hoc collaboration platforms.
Un-doubtabley this post will even start some argument, if not here, on twitter. I can only hope it’s one that is more beneficial than above, gloves are off.
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This post and comment(s) reflect the personal perspectives of community members, and not necessarily those of their employers or of AIIM International