Rogue IT Horror Story vs. Opportunity

harmon.ieOne of the big players in the SharePoint space,, is currently running a contest to collect the best “Rogue IT Horror Story”. If you have a story and want a chance to win a Samsung Galaxy S IV or a Trip to the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas in March, by all means head on over and submit your story.

Rogue IT users aren’t intending to harm their companies, they’re just trying to find the most efficient ways to get their work done. But this ‘efficiency’ comes at a high price: a recent survey found that 27% of workers who went rogue — and used consumer or unsanctioned apps for work — reported immediate and direct repercussions to the tune of $2 billion in penalties, lost business, data leakage and clean-up costs.

Mark Fidelman has a post about the contest on EndUserSharePoint today which prompted me to comment and write this post.

The problem that I have with the phrasing of contest and the thinking around it is it sets up more of the us vs. them thinking that ruins IT’s reputation in any organization.

These “horror stories” shouldn’t be water cooler jokes for IT (the most common thing I see in large organizations). They should be seen as opportunities for IT to offer improved services and support. Instead, they are usually met with increased lockdowns and policing which simply causes more effort expended to go around IT.

Every well-intentioned person who circumvents the “right” way to accomplish something:

  • Is trying to get something done in performance of their job
  • Most likely has met with a “no” – or the dreaded “no budget” – response from IT
  • Doesn’t trust that IT will help them or understand their needs
  • Has turned to the best approach they can figure out

We technologists should see these instances as excellent opportunities, not horror stories. We should strive to help people in our organizations before anything ever gets near some potential $500 million loss (which I frankly question as anything more than a great story).