Software that Employees Want

The company I currently work for equips all of its employees with laptops. That's an increasingly popular trend that makes sense since employees are quite likely to work outside of their offices. Lucky for me, my company also leaves the laptops pretty much wide open in terms of administrative access meaning that I can install new software whenever something seems like it might improve my productivity or teach me something.

This contrasts with an ex-employer that took the route of locking down laptops so tightly that I had to ask for permission and get it written in triplicate just to press the space bar! I understand the reasoning behind locking down laptops namely to prevent people from introducing viruses and other malicious programs in to the corporate network. But I don't agree that such policies should apply across the board because they can go a long way towards stifling the quest for improved efficiency.

As a technologist by profession and an enthusiast in my spare time, shouldn't I be allowed to explore new and exciting software that has the chance to help me and my co-workers do our jobs better? Should I have to provide a business case (which, if we're honest with ourselves, usually means writing some BS), just to try out some software? Isn't there some way that I could pursue such avenues in a secure manner e.g. run VMWare on my machine to provide a protected area to install software?

A Gartner report predicts that between 2007 and 2012, the majority of new information technologies that enterprises adopt will have their roots in the consumer market. The October 15, 2006 issue of CIO Magazine writes that, "instead of building a wall to keep consumer technologies out, CIOs need to be pragmatic and provide a place for employee's favorite applications." Seems to me that if a company wants to remain competitive, one avenue would be to give their employees a little slack. CIO Magazine is on board with such an approach and suggests that companies figure out the best ways to adopt new technology introduced by employees. Continued use of the "eliminationist" approach typical of the IT department is simply going to undermine relations with employees in addition to being a battle that the IT department will ultimately lose.

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