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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Who Needs IT Experts?Workers Go Online to Solve Tech Problems

Who Needs IT Experts? Workers Take Control
Savvy office workers frustrated that their on-the-job computer tools don't function as smoothly as, say, an Apple iPod are taking matters into their own hands.

No longer are they relying on company technicians, or information technology (IT) administrators, to choose the software needed to get the job done. They know how to pluck tools right off the Web.

Industry observers use the term "consumerization" to describe the phenomenon whereby office workers are less likely to wait for the IT folks to equip them.

Analyst Rebecca Wettemann of software research firm Nucleus Research says her company's surveys of corporate technology users frequently turn up the question: "Why can't I do what I want without getting an OK from IT?"

All of this poses a challenge to Microsoft Corp's business software franchise, and may be one of the under-appreciated reasons it's trying to acquire Yahoo Inc with its 500-million-strong base of Web consumers.

"Individual people, not IT organizations, are driving the next wave of (technology) adoption," Forrester Research said in a recent report.

Forrester refers to the movement toward user control and individual empowerment as "Technology Populism," others refer to it as "Office 2.0." Less sympathetically, consulting firm Yankee Group, in a 2007 report entitled "Zen and the Art of Rogue Employee Management," sees it as a threat for IT managers.

Micorsoft Vulnerability a Yahoo Strength

Once an isolated minority, these unhappy consumers have entered the mainstream of work life with a growing technical self-confidence. The braver souls shun corporate "help desks" as much as possible.
Because Web-based services often are free or charge little, budget restrictions, typically used by corporate managers to rein in organizational projects, rarely apply.

"IT managers have served as corporate gatekeepers. With software on demand, average people are able to explore and access and do much more than they have in the past," Wettemann says. "That power is going away," she said of central control.

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