Power to the People

Where there?s challenge, there?s opportunity, or so theold trope goes. Surely the idea of masses of end-users managing their corporate computing environments could send an IT manager running for the hills. But one fascinating trend that bubbled up in our study last year, but didn?t make it into the list until this year, is end-user-centricity as an IT management

How?s that, you ask? Won?t decentralization of technology into the hands of the (usually untrained) masses lead inevitably to lack of control? Well, it really depends on what gets decentralized.

Management and control can continue in the back office, as applications are built, tested and vetted. Users, in turn, can install and run when needed ? especially in mobile environments.

Client monitoring and application management systems round out the  strategy so that wildcat client applications can be identified and contained.

One area in which both management and users are working together is in social networks. Employees are allowed ? or even encouraged ? to participate in social networking sites to increase interaction with customers and enhance brand recognition. Management, in turn, develops policies and procedures to ensure those interactions generate positive results for the business.

Varsity, a Memphis-based cheerleading/dance apparel and instructional-clinic company, wanted to expand globally, but first it needed to take control of its e-commerce execution ? its brands were scattered in various  e-storefronts ? and make better use of social networking sites.

Using IBM?s WebSphere Commerce solution enabled the company to route all customers to a central Varsity Web location, where all brands are represented. It also increased the use of ?share? features during product sales, so customers can spread the word about products they like on Facebook and other social sites.

?We have 240,000 fans on Facebook, and we wanted to do a better job of connecting to our social-media audience,? says Shannon Ahern, executive director of e-commerce for Varsity. With this solution, management can get more of its products into the flow of the conversations taking place on
social networking sites, and employees and managers can make better decisions based on what customers are saying.