The Failure of Corporate Technology


We don't need no stinkin' technology.

I can’t send one of my clients large files via YouSendIt, a free online file sharing service.

Why?

Her company blocks it.  So when we share videos with this client we have to burn the videos onto a DVD and mail them to her.  Even with fastest delivery times, it can take up to 24-hours to get her feedback and impressions on the videos.

One of my B2B clients launched a Facebook page earlier this month as a way to better connect with customers and provide information about their products, services and news.  Yet none of the employees at this company can access the Facebook page at work.

Why?

Because the company policy forbids employees from visiting social media channels on work computers.

Speaking of computers, Forrester Research noted that desktop computers accounted for only 32 percent of PC sales in 2010 and will drop to 20 percent of sales by next year.  Consumers have moved in droves to laptops and tablets.  Yet many companies still provide desktop computers as the primary computer tool.

Some have moved to laptops, but few have embraced tablets (and those that have likely are doing so for a minority of employees).

In the past (and not that long ago), technology innovations were pushed on us by work.  Work is where most people first experienced the internet and received our first email addresses.  Our first experiences with email and calendar software likely occurred at work.  We first created digital documents, spreadsheets and presentations at work.  Our first mobile phone probably was issued by your place of employment.

Yet those days seem like ancient history.

Work is no longer driving technology adoption.  Individuals are.  iPhones and iPads are being used at home, but not at work.  Soaring tablet sales are being driven by consumers – not by corporate buyers.  Many work-issued mobile devices are relics.  They sort emails and make phone calls – and do little else.

Many people now carry two devices – the work phone and the cool, innovative personal device.  The one they use for applications and social media check-ins and updates.

A common complaint among clients is how slow their companies are in adopting new technology.  Many IT departments don’t allow individual workers to even accept updates on software they already own – unless a member of the IT department is present.  The corner Starbucks generally has better wireless service than most mainstream companies.

This is a terrible trend for businesses.  They are lagging behind their customers in providing online and mobile experiences.  Many companies still don’t have Facebook pages (news alert: there are 750 million people on Facebook – what are you waiting for?) or a mobile strategy.

As a result companies risk losing their innovative edge.

What is the situation at your place of business? Does your personal technology trump the technology you get at work?

Links:

YouSendIt

The Inquistir post on computer sales according to Forrester Research

3 Responses to “The Failure of Corporate Technology”

  1. Hi George,

    I have worked at places that blocked and other places that haven’t blocked these sites, and I’ve had several explanations thrown my way. In no particular order:

    1) Some companies have nothing better to do than decide what web sites their employees aren’t allowed to visit. You may know some of these companies yourself.
    2) Some block social media for productivity reasons so employees don’t waste time on Facebook, Twitter, etc. There is some merit to this argument, although I find it a little too overbearing.
    3) In many companies, especially in highly regulated industries like finance and health care, legal needs to approve every communication that comes out of the company because they are subject to government audits for compliance reasons. Therefore – depending on the company’s legal team – any post to a web site, blog or Facebook page that mentions the company could be interpreted as an “official” communication and if legal didn’t vet it, that could be trouble. In their mind, it’s better to just block and remove any potential problem.
    4) As you note, some companies have pretty bad technology. The company I worked for in 2010 used Lotus Notes for email and used Internet Explorer 6. Why? Because their Intranet and servers were so old that if you downloaded a new version of IE, you would crash the system. And this company had over $350 billion in assets under management. This is an extreme example, but IT budgets have been pinched as much as every other place, so new tech isn’t getting rolled out too fast these days.
    5) One more reason for blocking Facebook and other social media sites – it’s not the way every company reaches its customers. Once again, if you’re in that B2B, highly regulated, outside of technology world you probably don’t sell your stuff – people buy it. If your target market isn’t going to buy something through social media that doesn’t mean social media isn’t important (I would say it should certainly be used for other things) but it also means social media is pretty low down the totem pole if it isn’t going to close sales. Ergo, it can be blocked and most people won’t care.

    All that said, I do think people in PR should have access to all the social media web sites so they can montior coverage and rumors. And with all the iPads and iPhones, many people can now use them at work to go and visit their blocked sites that way.

  2. Hi David:
    Excellent analysis – although I don’t agree with #5. Facebook has 750 million people – many of them in the B2B space. In fact, B2B buyers do more online research before buying than B2C so it is crucial to be providing relevant content about your products, services and thinking on web channels, including social media. Social media isn’t just about selling either – it is about connecting with customers and the media as well. Answering questions, building creditability and increasing loyalty.

  3. Sometimes we need to send large files to clients. They are too large for emails and FTP is complex to set up. I have found an option where you can send large files directly to your client. This service is called Binfer. Very easy to send and receive large files. Their site is http://www.binfer.com

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