“I have two questions for you,” a client told me, shortly after I launched IT Catalysts: “The first is, how can I instill a better customer-service attitude among the IT staff? The second is, how can we stop all of the shadow IT [he called it ‘rogue IT’] that’s going on in the company?”
My answer was, and continues to be, pick one. If they’re really your customers you have no business telling them they can’t do what they want to do. It’s the difference between being a restaurateur and a dietician.
And even that answer is less than the best, because neither one is a particularly good idea. So pick neither.
There are no internal customers, as regular KJR readers are tired of reading by now, and anyway, the word “customer” is superfluous. Instill a service attitude and have done with it. “We’re here to help everyone else take care of the people who pay the bills … the company’s customers,” does the job just fine.
Meanwhile, IT’s attempts to stop shadow IT are like squeezing a closed tube of toothpaste. The toothpaste just moves around inside the tube, just as shadow IT is moving from the PCs hard drive to the cloud.
We used to be able to pretend. We’d lock down the desktops, hoist up the landlubbers, and congratulate each other over having followed security best practices.
We can’t pretend anymore, though. Back when, we were able to prevent the sales force from installing Act! on their laptops, thereby reducing an already-minor security risk while helping make sure the company’s revenues were smaller than they could be.
That was then. This is now. We can still lock down their laptops, but we can’t lock down the cloud, which means that while we can stop the sales force from buying Act! licenses ($550 each one-time), the only way to stop them from “installing” Salesforce.com licenses ($780/year ongoing) is to use a website blocker, which means the cost of blocking Salesforce.com (blockers aren’t free, and someone needs to administer them too) probably exceeds the cost of buying Act! licenses.
Here’s what kills me: Salesforce.com has to have the most amazing PR machine in history, because the usual cant about Software as a Service is how much more economical it is than the usual IT-installed solutions.
And lots of CFOs believe it!
There are, at a rough level of analysis, two types of CFO. One understands only costs, and sees IT as the company spendthrift, always trying to increase them; the other understands both the concept of investment and the value of better tools.
The CFOs who believe the “the cloud saves money” stuff are mostly cost-CFOs, I think, probably because:
- It fits the IT-as-spendthrift narrative they’ve already bought into. Few people scrutinize statements they agree with.
- As Salesforce.com charges are paid monthly, and out of the Sales Department’s budget besides, they’re pretty much invisible, even though they’re a helluva lot higher.
- IT has locked down the desktops to stop shadow IT, which means IT has to buy the Act! licenses (there’s that spendthrift thing again), handle the installations, and support the users (we’ll have to hire more staff).
- Because we’re IT and think this way, we’ll first do a bunch of business analysis to determine whether Act! or an enterprise CRM suite would be a better choice.
- Also because we’re IT and we think this way, we’ll do more business analysis to determine how to configure the solution we decide on to fit the company’s sales process, and to integrate it into whatever other systems it has to integrate into.
By the time we’re done, Salesforce.com costs a lot less … not because it has to, but because we’re so determined to stamp out shadow IT and do things “right.”
Imagine that instead of trying to stamp out shadow IT, we embraced it. The sales director would have told us that many of the sales reps wanted to install Act! Is there any problem with this?
No. No problemo, so long as they’re willing to be self-supporting (just as they are with Salesforce.com) and aren’t looking to integrate Act! into any of the company’s other systems.
And if Sales wants IT to provide integration and support? That also isn’t a problem, and costs the same whether IT is integrating and supporting Act! or Salesforce.com.
There are three bottom-line “goods” in any business: Revenue, cost, and risk. Stamp out shadow IT and you’ll reduce risk a bit. Embrace it and you help improve revenue and cost.