There’s a famous Douglas Adams quote along the lines of ‘Technology’s a word that describes something that doesn’t quite work yet’. For me, it’s been one of those quotes that was nice and gentle on the mind at first and then has proceeded to burrow its way slowly into the deep recesses, where it’s now made itself and home and is starting to throw up some interesting perspectives. Perhaps it’s taken a leaf from Adams’ own creation, the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster (“The effect of drinking a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.”)
In this guest post colleague Chris Yapp provides both a slice of lemon and a brick on what most of us find straightforward to use at home but remains to this day as one of the single biggest corporate IT issues. The PC.
What does externalisation really mean? – guest post by Chris Yapp
One of the things that IT folk are often accused of is talking in big terms such as “a trend to externalisation”, which actually is happening, believe me. Making it real for the market can often be the challenge without losing sight of the link between the idea and its delivery.
I was musing with colleagues on what externalisation means for corporate IT in the medium term and one of the cameos we came to seems compelling. I’d welcome your thoughts on this.
Let’s go back, to look forward.
Thirty years ago, company car schemes would be quite restrictive. Typically there might be a preferred supplier. Sales reps might get a Cavalier and support staff an Astra. Today, many organisations have flexible employment packages. They have outsourced fleet management. The schemes offered allow for the wide variety of family sizes and structures. Also, individuals can choose to supply their own cars, usually with stipulations about age and suitability. Flexible employment schemes now cover Health, dental, holiday, life assurance and many other factors. For instance, I know of schemes for pet insurance. These flexibilities are seen as needed to attract and retain talent.
The thought is that mobile phones and IT will in time move from company supplied to this kind of flexible arrangement.
People will either be able to join a company scheme or supply their own. How many of us today carry two mobile phones, one for work and one for friends and family?
Of course restrictions will be needed such as anti virus packages and other security arrangements.
However, for the MAC, Vista or Linux zealot, as standards develop, the need for the organisations they work in to run user IT (laptop and the like) and Mobile devices on a restricted basis will diminish with time. Giving the user greater flexibility makes sense. Talking to a final year student a little while ago, I was told “I will never work for an organisation that won’t let me use my MAC!”
In the short term when recruitment is stalled and many organisations are downsizing, this might seem unnecessary. However, look 2-5 years out with the ageing population and things will change. Skill shortages and the difficulty in recruitment will make growth difficult in many sectors.
I won’t call the upturn, but when it comes flexibility will be the key in securing the needed talent. In fact, the downturn is resulting in a rise in people being more flexible in their working habits. So the thought is that in the medium term, the key driver of externalisation may well be HR. That wasn’t what we initially expected.
What do you think?