Dee Rambeau presents a depressing workplace scenario that, in my experience, was all too common ten to twelve years ago as everyone began discovering the web as a business tool.
The scenario is broadly to do with who makes decisions in the workplace regarding websites. Is it the IT department, which owns the infrastructure, or is it the communicators, who own the content?
Ten years ago, the worst case was where one of the two believed they owned all of it – infrastructure and content – and that believer was typically IT. What’s more, they generally got away with it.
As a communicator, I have direct experience of that kind of environment plus the battle scars to prove it.
Fast-forward ten years and what’s changed?
A great deal. In my experience, what’s now typical is a collaborative relationship between IT and others in the organization regarding the deployment of technology tools.
No longer just websites. Today we’re talking about the broad raft of social media – blogs and wikis in particular – plus enablers like RSS, as well as emerging tools such as enterprise social bookmarking and tagging.
While all of these media and tools use the web, they are not quite like websites with the conventional thinking behind how you deploy them. It requires a different mindset in how you view what they are and do, and how they can fit within an existing IT infrastructure.
That different mindset applies to both communicators and IT, where both recognize the real stake each of the other has in working together to create a resource that enables employees to effectively use it in order for them to support the organization’s business goals.
Dee’s scenario paints a picture of an organization today where the IT department make it very clear that they own everything and condescendingly will make all the decisions on what’s best for everyone. Her post includes a verbatim letter from the head of IT to the head of PR in the company concerned.
If you’re a communicator, you’ll bristle reading this. I know quite a few IT managers who would bristle, too.
My experience again is that disruptive and destructive workplace turf wars where communicators – whether they’re PR, employee communication or corporate communication – clash with IT over who makes the decisions on technology tools really are much of a thing of the past.
Undoubtedly there still are dinosaur IT managers around as Dee describes, as well as confrontational communicators. Yet I don’t believe Dee’s example is typical of what’s happening in the workplace today.