July 15, 2011, 1:13 PM — About 15 years ago, there was a movement in IT to reduce platforms. CIOs wanted to simplify environments that included the odd minicomputer from the 1980s, Unix and Windows servers, PC and Mac desktops and a raft of applications of mixed vintage.
Pleading exorbitant cost and too many user complaints, CIOs said they were limiting options. IT set rigid rules dictating which desktops and laptops employees were allowed to use and which applications they could put on them. One big move was eliminating all Macs and their applications-infuriating loyal fans, including many C-level executives. Many users never forgot that act or forgave the CIO. IT lost in its effort to position itself as a facilitator of business needs. In many cases, IT became a gatekeeper-far too often saying "no" to what end users wanted.
Now, organizations are experiencing a new explosion in technology platforms, including iPhones and iPads that employees purchase for themselves but want to use at and for work. Android devices are rapidly making similar inroads. And the Mac is making a stunning recovery. This puts you, as the CIO, in an interesting position: Will you keep saying no, or will you become a hero by supporting the IT that users really like and want?