Wednesday, October 17, 2007

GoogleDocs and IT

As I ponder the relevance of Web 2.0 and social networking on the corporate work-force, I believe they could indeed have a profound impact.

Today, the most-used technology tools we've provided our employees are (1) email (2) word/excel/powerpoint. I classify these tools as "self-help", meaning users don't need IT's help to use them. The biggest downside to word/excel is that they are single-user; anti-social, if you will. I will describe email as semi-social, as control/collaboration still resides in each individual inbox. Other tools include your company intranet, and if it's like most, its mainly non-collaborative.

The opportunity that IT has is to begin providing what I will call "self-help 2.0" tools, which are collaborative and support the business version of social networking (will someone please come up with a clever name for this?). As I watch staff use GoogleDocs and other similar tools, I find myself thinking I should be providing them with these kinds of tools. If you'll remember, this was a promise of VBscript, embedded in every Microsoft tool. However, Microsoft overlooked that VBscript is a programming language (it even has a debugger!).

My vision is that IT departments start to provide employees with these web 2.0 self-help tools, and allow non-IT staff to effectively start developing their own applications/functions. Why not? Well, we come up against the same issue IT has struggled with when PCs and email were first available:- Control! Technology teams need to consider giving up control in certain areas, which in turn will allow them to focus in on critical apps. Why would any of us bother developing a simple database application for the business? Let them use GoogleDocs, DabbleDB or similar.

I for one am ready to give up control. Are you ready?