by Maryfran Johnson

How to Provide People-Friendly Tech

Sep 27, 20112 mins
CIOProject Management Tools

The Oct. 1 issue of CIO magazine features three stories that deal with the people issues behind IT’s biggest potential game-changers: BYOT, unified communications and social media.

“Technology is easy. People are tough.”

CIOs have been saying that for years, whenever the conversation turned to managing change or adopting new technologies. In the new math of IT leadership, one recalcitrant user base equals one failed project. If you build it and they don’t come, it’s game over.

But what happens when the game changes?

In this issue, you’ll find three stories that delve into the people issues behind some of today’s biggest potential game-changers: bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) policies, unified communications tools, and social media and collaboration software.

Our cover story (“Bring Your Own Tech: 9 Things IT Needs To Know”) serves up a nine-point guide for what to expect when the inmates take over the asylum. There are detailed, practical tips on handling a number of issues, such as setting security policies and working with accounting departments to administer BYOT funds.

BYOT is a “great acknowledgement of reality,” says CIO Leslie Jones of Motorola Solutions. But she cautions: “You’re doing it because you want to deliver choice and flexibility. Not to save you money.”

If you’re steering clear of BYOT for now, you’re still in the majority. In a survey we just conducted among 476 IT leaders, 69 percent still weren’t allowing employees to buy their own gear. But the lessons learned by those who are trying BYOT reveal a lot about human nature and the improving relationship between IT and the rest of the business.

We explore the opposite effect (of everyone resisting IT change) in “­Unified Communications Success Depends on Changing Employee Habits,” a story about the effort required to get employees to form new habits when they start working with unified communications tools.

“People move at their own pace around [this] technology,” notes Barry Libenson, CIO of Land O’Lakes, where the IT team launched an impressive internal marketing effort that included designated user coaches walking around in orange vests.

Our final tale about people and change can be found in “The Inside Scoop on Nationwide’s Social Networking Project,” a story about a social networking revolution of sorts at Nationwide Insurance. The company discovered that employees can’t be pushed into social tools they don’t choose for themselves.

Technology is easy. People are tough.

Maryfran Johnson is the editor in chief of CIO Magazine & Events. Email her at