One of my last one-on-ones at the Gartner Symposium in Cannes was about how to rejuvenate programs around green IT. Not how to make IT greener, but how to use IT to make business processes more environmentally sustainable. This is also known as the 98% problem, since it is common knowledge that IT contributes for about 2% to overall environmental impact.
The client came from a national government organization which has about 1 million euro to spend in pilots, and one of the areas they are exploring is teleworking, aiming at both the public and the private sector.
As expected, their questions were about what platform they should promote or what platforms they should compare with different pilots. I probably set them a bit off balance when I suggested that pilots could consider technology that people already have at home, such as Skype for videoconferencing, MSN or Facebook for instant messaging, LinkedIn for social networking, and so forth. This would both save money otherwise spent in rather expensive licenses, hence increasing the number of pilots, and allow the key functionalities to be identified before moving to enterprise platforms. If ever.
Of course many would find this idea outrageous. What about security? How can one possibly rely on consumer-class products to support mission-critical processes? My own experience is that – with my 4 Mb ADSL connection, our corporate VOIP solution does not work too well, while calls with Skype or Yahoo rarely have problems.
Leveraging tools that people already know looks like a way to both bring teleworkers up to speed quickly enough, and make the use of these tools stick.
Another battlefield for consumer vs. enterprise technology…