Bringing the iPhone and the Mac into ancient tech environments at work

Wed, Nov 18, 2009


The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article detailing the tendency for corporations to stick with outdated technology in the workplace for years on end.  And seeing as how my place of employ still uses Windows XP and IE 6, it’s unfortunately a topic I can closely relate to.

But as the WSJ points out, the times they are-a-changing, and with the average joe more tech conscious and savvy these days, the demands for modern technology in the workplace is growing louder, and thankfully, corporations are starting to listen.

It goes without saying that the iPhone in particular has had a fundamental impact on IT staffs across the country.  As a quick anecdote, Andy Inhatko (of Macworld and MacBreak Weekly fame) recently told a story of a CEO who couldn’t access his company’s website on his iPhone because it was written entirely in flash – and not willing to give up his precious iPhone, this CEO subsequently demanded that the website be redone so he could check it from the iPhone.

Drawing from my own experience, a buddy of mine works for an extremely large law firm in Chicago where all associates were required to own BlackBerry’s.  iPhone support was non-existent and there were no plans to accommodate the iPhone crowd.  But after a large number of associates banded together and made a concerted effort to lobby for iPhone support, it was eventually implemented so that iPhone fans could scrap their BlackBerrys if they so chose.

The bottom line is that there are some technologies that people simply aren’t willing to compromise on, and luckily, it’s netting some concrete results.  And seeing as how the majority of corporate America is draped with Windows PCS and BlackBerrys, the Mac and the iPhone stand to benefit the most from less stringent IT policies.

The WSJ writes that Kraft Foods, for example, is one company that had historically limited their employees choice of technology. Not only did they prevent company computers from accessing certain websites like YouTube and FaceBook, they also “offered a limited choice of smart phones and Windows PCs.”

But then things started to change.

Executives began to worry that the company’s technology policies were preventing employees from staying in step with trends. Kraft was a consumer company, they figured, so workers needed to be more familiar with the technologies that consumers were using, whether the iPhone or YouTube.

So, the IT department stopped blocking access to consumer Web sites, and the company started a stipend program for smart phones: Workers get an allowance every 18 months to buy a phone of their choosing. (Over 60% picked iPhones.) Kraft has also started a pilot program to let some of its employees pick their own computer. One catch: Employees who choose Macs are expected to solve technical problems by consulting an online discussion group at Kraft, rather than going through the help desk, which deals mainly with Windows users.

And so it goes.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kraft story above starts to become more and more common.

You can check out the article in its entirety over here.


1 Comments For This Post

  1. iphonerulez Says:

    Hey, if I were an IT tech guy, I’d be happy to keep supporting the same old technology for 20 years. I wouldn’t have to learn any more as I’d be able to solve every problem since the same ones would keep repeating themselves. Nice to have a comfortable job where nothing ever changes year after year. Keep those damn Macs and iPhones out of the equation and stop them from ruining my day. You can never go wrong with Dell, Windows XP and MS Office on 50,000 corporate desks. Don’t worry about the productivity of the employees. They’ll manage on their own. Besides, there’s no guarantee that a Mac or iPhone will boost anyone’s productivity. The IT guy’s job is just to keep everything running as smooth as silk with no extra disruptions necessary. It’s bad enough just holding back Windows 7 from the corporate servers, so forget about throwing in OSX into the mix. Yeh, I’m gonna rest easy on the job worshiping the Holy Trinity (Dell, Windows XP and MS Office) for a few more years until I retire. Take that, Steve Jobs and Apple.

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