May 4, 2016

Is Silicon Valley A Laggard In Best Workplace Practice ?

Spoiler Alert … Possibly. But there is some light.

BYOD-Averages-2014 US wide data for BYOD in 2014 - data provided by Citrix.

Those of you without their heads under rocks will know that there is a movement afoot in the modern enterprise called BYOD. It has been around for some 7 years. It started a while back as the Enterprise found increasing numbers of people wandering into their offices with their Blackberry, iPhone, Droid, iPad, accessories, and demanding network access. Wikipedia has this to say. [ my emphasis ].

The term BYOD first entered common use in 2009, courtesy of Intel when it recognized an increasing tendency among its employees to bring their own devices (i.e., smartphones, tablets and laptop computers) to work and connect them to the corporate network. However, it took until early 2011 before the term achieved any real prominence when IT services provider Unisys and software vendor Citrix Systems started to share their perceptions of this emergent trend. BYOD has been characterized as a feature of the “consumer enterprise” in which enterprises blend with consumers.

As you might imagine, I am a big fan of the ‘people empowerment’ that occurs through BYOD. You know how your stuff works, companies expect you to be ‘always on’ - so why not make it convenient for the people doing the work, no learning curves as you move from company to company and find not just another OS - but actually even versions of software that are radically different from what you were using in the last company. (Ask any Windoze 10 user what the shift was like from their previous Windoze OS.). If in 2011 both Unisys and Citrix (companies that are not exactly recognized as acting ahead of the curve - much less ‘thought leaders’) were talking about and supporting BYOD, you might imagine it would be standard practice today. Well. Not so fast. I am now aware of three different companies based in Silicon Valley (arguably the bastion of ‘technology futures’) that do not support BYOD. It seems to come down to a combination of 2 things, that in turn boil down to one … protectionism. + What I used to call the ‘Permafrost layer’ - which comprises one or more  ‘Jobsworth’s that you find in most organizations, who view their entire role to being ’in charge’ and thus preventing you from doing this and that. Turns out one of the best ways to do that is to block change, manage through gossip and hearsay, and block anything that would improve efficiency or put their own job at risk. { NOTE, do not confuse that with this Jobsworth - who is one of the most enlightened and interesting thinkers that I know of. }. + Those pesky outsourced IT consultants that have their business to protect and have no interest in making life simpler. To do so reduces their revenue. Instead they speak ‘tech geek’ to explain why it is impossible to support a Mac on ‘their’ Windoze network, or how it would take a couple of hours to plug an extra monitor into your laptop. Oh well. It is a shame really. Silicon Valley used to be so much about the possibility - I guess it is growing up to be just like all the other industries. But there’s more …. This excellent piece from Sandhill popped into my inbox this morning … tackling the question of wearables in the workplace - and the broader IoT debate. It got me to thinking. Maybe it isn’t all darkness. Maybe my three companies are just exceptions. And the rest of the valley is just ‘tickety boo’. What is your experience ?

Jobsworth, josbsworth; it’s more than my job’s worth. I don’t care, rain or snow, whatever you want – the answer’s no! I can keep you standing, for hours in the queue, And if you don’t like, you know what you can do! (A…a…ah…ah)

Jeremy Taylor - 1970 (ish)


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