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The Un-Marketing of IT - The Survey Results Wed 29 Oct 08

Questionaire_kim_pierroIn my last post, I discussed the issue of IT restricting the use of the very technology we provide and how this is received by our user community.  I suggested that the limits we impose has an "un-marketing" effect that undermines our efforts to promote IT as a strategic partner.  Although these limitations may be necessary for a number of valid reasons, they can create a very negative perception of IT.  As the old saying goes, "Perception Is Reality," or at least, a user's perception is his reality.

I also suggested a few things we can do to improve that perception.  In addition, I included a survey to get your thoughts on the subject.  I thought I'd review the results of the survey to see what they may indicate.

The survey results are as of Oct. 25. Each question received between 230 and 275 "yes" or "no" responses. I had suspected that IT providers might have a distinctly different view of the issues than consumers do. We received fewer responses to this question than others due to a software glitch, but in general the people who answered the survey seem divided pretty equally between IT providers and consumers--suggesting that both groups have similar views on these questions. Thank you if you took part in the survey--and if you haven't voted yet, please click here.

Now for the results:

1. Do you believe IT unnecessarily limits the use of the technologies it delivers?

Yes 74%,  No 26% 

By an overwhelming response, it is clear that you think companies limit the use of technology unnecessarily.  That is not to say there isn't a good reason, but rather most of you don't believe, or are not aware, there is a good reason.  This is a subtle but important difference.

2. Does IT limiting the use of technology create a poor impression of IT?

Yes 87%, No 13%

By a ratio of more than 6 to 1, people feel that limiting technology use leads to a poor impression of IT.  It is interesting to note that the same proportion of IT providers and IT consumers agreed on this. Clearly, our approach does un-market IT, and IT might be its own worst enemy.

The next 3 questions dealt with how we deal (or perhaps do not deal) with the impact of these technology limitations. 

3. Does IT provide an adequate explanation for limiting the use of technology?

Yes 18%, No 82%

Although we may think we provide explanations for our actions, the results indicate a communications gap. It begs the question of whether or not we try to communicate, and if we do, how effective are we.

4. When IT limits the use of technology, does it provide alternative ways to accomplish tasks?

Yes 19%, No 81%

I suspect this is the most frustrating impact of the limitations we impose on the use of technology.  We tell people they cannot do a particular action but don't tell them what they can do.  Making people frustrated and giving them a sense of helplessness won't improve their perception of IT.

5. Does IT provide a responsive support structure to address issues caused by limiting the use of technology?

Yes 27%, No 73%

According to the survey results, not only do we not provide people with alternative means to accomplish a task, we also don't provide support when they ask for help.  Talk about frustrated users!

In conclusion, IT needs to ramp up its communications skills. By not explaining why it restricts or prohibits the use of certain technologies, IT fosters misunderstandings and resentment from other employees in a corporation.

This article is also posted on Forbes.com.  Feel free to join in the discussion either on this site or at Forbes.com

"Hi Foreigner! Please Answer Questionaire." photo by Kim Pierro

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