Google Nexus One / HTC Desire vs The IT Department

Why is it the responsibility of the IT Department to drop everything when someone strolls in with the latest gadget, and asks us to support it?

This article provides a perfect example of the muddled thinking behind this.

In my experience, this has been an issue since the early days of PDAs – “I’m having trouble synching my Palm Pilot” being a regular complaint to the Service Desk. Now that there are a much greater number of smartphones on the market, the problem seems to be increasing.

Despite having clear SLAs which state which devices are supported, there remains an expectation amongst some of our colleagues that any networkable device can be made to work seamlessly with corporate systems.

To some extent, the issue dissipated when Blackberries were introduced. These devices are robust, multifunctional, can be supported easily and are reasonably popular with end users.

There may be the occasional request for an iPhone, but most people seem happy when we give them a Blackberry (though when it’s not brand new – we sometimes deploy pre-owned devices – the disappointment is palpable).

The underlying problem here, I think, is techno-lust – the need to have the latest and shiniest life-changing gadget. This is fine when it’s your own money, but corporate IT simply cannot afford to spend time chasing technology in this manner.

Of course, IT people are fond of gadgets too and would enjoy nothing more than to spend all day playing with (or “evaluating”, as it’s known in the trade) the latest technologies.

However, with ever-decreasing budgets, IT Departments have an ongoing challenge to keep the expenditure down, and standardisation is the only way to manage cost-of-ownership.

Rather than jeopardising “competitive advantage”, as this article claims, IT professionals work hard to provide a reliable, functional and cost-effective service. By agreeing to support a myriad of devices, the IT Department would actually be doing their colleagues and organisations a disservice.

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