IT departments risk losing control over their companies' PCs as a new wave of technology-educated end-users, helped by smarter software, take on IT decisions themselves.
This is the key finding of a recent report by Forrester Research, The Technology Democracy, which looked into the impact the Internet and intranets are having in corporate US.
Waverly Deutsch, director of Forrester's computer strategies, and author of the report, criticised IT departments for being too inflexible.
"IT can no longer rule with an iron hand. The magnitude of the change IT must make is akin to a totalitarian dictatorship becoming a modern 20th century democracy," she said.
"Users either hire outside help or build applications on their own if the IT department won't work with them," warned Deutsch.
She said tools such as Microsoft's Visual Basic and Front Page make it easy for competent end-users to build their own applications or create their own Web site. "It is the Internet that has been the final straw for IT departments," she concluded.
According to Forrester, IT departments in the US are not supporting end users who wish to obtain connections to the Internet.
Explaining their reluctance, Deutsch said: "IT is a control-orientated environment. The Net can be very scary. It is insecure and there is always the threat of virus attack."
Users, unaware of these implications and without the support of their IT department, are turning to Internet Service Providers to get an Internet connection.
In the report, Forrester advises business managers rather than IT departments to take responsibility for intranet use in their company. This is because it is impossible for IT departments to test every intranet application and edit every Web page. Their role, says the report, should be confined to establishing the basic ground rules to govern intranet behaviour.
Forrester also recommends IT departments provide a safety net to protect companies against any problems which may arise as a result of staff using the Internet.
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