Meet Jamie - A HERO With The Power To Force Change

7:30 AM, on Monday, December 5th, 2011, flight 1052. As I took my seat in Southwest Airlines' "Business Class," otherwise known as the exit row, I gave a nod to my new seat mate and noticed his MacBook on the tray table. He was reading something on his iPad and set it down for a second to send a text message from his iPhone. Now there's a Kool-Aid connoisseur, I thought. "Going to Salt Lake or beyond?" I asked. "Salt Lake. Gotta visit some customers, and after that I have to go to Boise to train our western region sales team."

And so the conversation began. I learned that his name is Jamie, he is in sales, travels every week, loves his job and his company, and is the top sales performer. $3M in quota last year and his secret sauce is knowing his customers' businesses better than they do, and delivering value with every interaction. He said, "Last week I had a meeting with a new prospect for the first time, and they couldn't believe I showed up without slides, and we spent the meeting talking about their situation instead of throwing up all over them about what we do."  Jamie is a HERO. His world revolves around delivering customer value, and he has neither the time nor the patience for anything that gets in the way.

Naturally, I asked him some questions about his MacBook Air and the applications he uses. His answers, while fascinating, echo what I hear from many others like him:

Q: How do you like your MacBook Air?
A: I love it.
Q: Does your company issue those or is that one yours?
A: Hell no! It's mine! They gave me a huge Dell.
Q: Where is it?
A: It's in the closet at home, still in the bag.
Q: Does your company support the Mac?
A: Nope. I'm on my own.
Q: What about getting on the network and using e-mail and the salesforce automation tool?
A: I just use webmail on the Mac and we use They helped me get my iPad set up with e-mail though.
Q: Don't you guys have other apps on the network that require Windows?
A: Yeah, but I just don't use them.
Q: Doesn't that get you in trouble with your boss?
A: As long as I'm blowing out my number, he doesn't care what I use.
Q: What if you have a problem? Don't you call the helpdesk?
A: Nope, if I have a problem with the Mac itself, I go to the Apple Store. The only time I call our helpdesk is when I can't get access to something.

Jamie has the skills to make his own technology choices. His talents are hard to find and he is expensive to replace. His exceptional performance in his job means that his executives know who he is and he will be given the power to overrule the IT hierarchy and use whatever helps him stay productive.

When I talk with I&O professionals about people like Jamie, they're often horrified. "That guy is setting a bad example for his team!" or "He needs more support than he admits!" or "In this economic climate, I have absolutely no interest in supporting new platforms!" This last one I heard just last week, and I asked: "Really? So you think your HEROes should be reined in or reprimanded?" "Absolutely! That's why we have policies!" "I see. What if they leave the company because they're frustrated with how the company supports his efforts?" "I'd say good riddance!" Wow.

Similar lines of thinking are rampant in I&O organizations everywhere. We have gone from a culture of service 15 years ago, to a culture of standards and control today. Removing all sources of risk and threat has taken priority over people-centric customer service and enablement, and people like Jamie see their I&O organizations as unhelpful…so they banish them from their working lives. We need look no further to understand the nature of consumerization and who's driving it. The situation has to change, and I&O organizations will be forced to find ways to deliver both freedom and security. Jamie's demographic holds a tremendous amount of power in business.  This idea is the subject of much thinking and research here at Forrester.

The days of what I like to call "Henry Ford's IT" -- where people can have corporate technology in any color they want as long as it's black (a reference to the Ford Model-T sold in only one color) are over.  The successful I&O professionals of tomorrow will be a master of delivering freedom AND security, and will be doing it with less than they have today.

What do you think? Is aligning with what Jamie needs or wants the same thing as aligning with the needs of the business? Does Jamie need to re-align with the policies and practices of the business, or does the business need re-aligning with Jamie?


Great blog!

Jamies will always find a way to win. Savvy managers will always find a way to help their Jamies win. I still can't believe that as we approach 2012, cross-platform or web-based (the easiest cross-platform solution) support infrastructure is the exception rather than the rule. Great thinking point, Dave!

Thanks Michael.

I realize this is all easier said than done for many, but that's what I've been trying to help people do...strike a better balance with better visibility of what's happening outside the office walls.

Although this type of

Although this type of behavior has been going on for years and only in the last few years has become more apparent and brash. A lot of will depend on the transformation of applications inside the organization. It is not only to make them Cloud enabled applications, but also to ensure those applications are built securely enough (webmail in the example of Jamie) to withstand the security requirements mandated by regulations or guidelines. If you changed the questions to I&Os by asking, "If I could save you nearly 100% of your OPEX on management of client computers and move you to a subsidized approach to acquiring technology for your employees (also dramatically decreasing your CAPEX), would that be helpful?" Unfortunately, most I&Os (like Cloud) are not technology mature enough for this type of movement and any type of project would surely fail. Several attempts by organizations to provide the boundaries of work on personal devices exist (Mocha 5, VMware View, Citrix (RingCube) and some corporations have taken these approaches, but none of them have become game changers.

I agree


You nailed it. The hardest part of this is not that I&O professionals don't want to change, it's that they feel hamstrung and don't have the data or insights to force the changes they know are needed from the bottoms-up.

I also agree with you that consumerization represents an opportunity to shift the burden or responsibility (and cost of support) to those who are willing to accept it.


A Neutral Viewpoint

I agree that these situations are repeated ad infinitum throughout the business world and it makes IT departments look inept and unable to keep pace with the needs of business. Moreover, it is IT's job to support the business and enable them to complete the mission of the business as easily and smooth as possible.

That said, Jamie is rogue and a corporate law breaker. To present him as a hero is wrong. Managing hundreds and thousands of users' compute resources is a difficult task. On top of this, the lack of appreciation for how difficult it is has led to shrinking budgets forcing IT to accomplish this mission with fewer resources, both human and technological.

The target for this message is the executive officers. They need to understand that enabling the Jamies of the world to succeed requires an investment on their part to facilitate IT supporting this environment. With limited resources, the only means of providing support is driving homogeneity and common tools. For every Jamie, there's a Jamie wannabe that gets themselves in trouble and cannot manage it all themselves. Getting them out of that trouble is double the work of not allowing them to get in the trouble in the first place.

Okay, some IT departments are stuck in the 90's (maybe even the 80's), but many are really trying to do their best with minimal support and resources. Let's stop painting them as inept freaks and focus the conversation on how we can enable them to build next generation IT departments.

Thanks JP - we're closer than you think


I agree with much of what you say, with the caveat that I have yet to encounter an operations situation where there wasn't significant budget pressure. But what's missing in most of my conversations with folks is the sincere understanding of the economic opportunity that greater end user freedom presents, or the willingness to actively and relentlessly seek ways to empower instead of restrict. I sense another blog brewing!

Nevertheless, there are some who "get it", and are working hard to deliver freedom in the face of highly restricted budgets. I spoke to an IT Director at a well-known university today who explained how he had used Desktops-as-a-Service to deliver a standardized environment to any faculty member who wanted to use a different computer than the university offered...and cut out PC purchase and support costs in the process.

I also want to be very clear that I don't see ineptitude. I see willful refusal to recognize what's changing or to consider that what the end users need is more important than outdated policy. There's a critically important difference!


Heroes are good, Rogues are not

On the surface, I agree that this seems like a great idea - respected people can drive change because they have that hint of "untouchability" to break the rules and showcase something new and valuable.

There's a couple of key points in there though: Was Jamie go all Apple just because he wanted to, or was their a legitimate business benefit that came out of the switch?

If it's "just because" you're allowing a culture of Rogues to set in, and are in for one hell of a chaotic ride if it catches on. If there is legit value to be had, then IT should learn from Jamie, and roll out changes to his peers - and that makes Jamie a Hero.

About 18mos ago when the first iPad came out, I picked one up for myself because I can't resist new gadgets (yes, it's a problem. no, i'm not seeing someone for it). I found myself using it when meeting with clients and in particular, in more casual settings where it was just a couple of people. The iPad was great for adding visuals to discussions. It's didn't feel impersonal as powering up a laptop to show something.

It worked so well in fact that we armed our entire sales org with iPads. And we encourage people to share with their team other use cases for them. Everything from note taking apps to what apps they're using to synch the content they need. It's a great and _valuable_ tool for the sales team.


Thanks Abbas - some questions for you


In your view, who defines legitimate business benefit, and who determines who is a rogue and who is a HERO? Is it for the IT organization to decide or the end user community?

My point is that it has become nearly custom in the last 15 years for I&O professionals to start to view "rogues" like enemies of the state, when in reality their contributions to the business are substantial and readily measurable.

Kudos on the use of iPads in the business to help with sales. That's a terrific use case!


Who defines benefit

Hey Dave,

I think the definition of benefit has to come from the business side in this type of situation. The IT org already defined benefits through standardization (security, minimize cost, support, etc.) so when someone wants to see something new it's their responsibility to come up with the benefit as well. In Jamie's case for example, it could be as simple as "It's easier to access my sales tools on the go which makes me more productive." A true Hero would be someone who has the ability and willingness (risk-taking sometimes) to try out something new, breaking the rules up front a little, and come up with the benefit.

At that point, either the Hero or someone who is in his/her management chain has to make the case to the IT org and they decide together to either take it forward or not.

The Rogue would be the opposite of the Hero in approach and results. Whether I can identify any benefits or not, I want to do things my way. I can relate to that pretty well, because sometimes I personally like to break rules just to test boundaries :-) Redirected by good management and peers, Rogues can also be turned into Heroes if you can focus their energies the right way.

A cultural shift we have to start to see in I&O is being open to input that might be completely crazy at the surface. Informal gatherings where you actively solicit advice from end users can bring new ideas into the organization that otherwise wouldn't see the light of day. Requires changes from both sides though - I&O need to listen and ask the right questions to truly explore benefit and not just to poke holes, and business side needs to look as I&O as a partner who can get changes broadly deployed. One Hero can be an agent of change, but it takes solid I&O backing to to make that business as usual.


Abbas, I think you are

I think you are right in the sense of the "just because" theory. If anyone is just picking a different platform just to pick it should be discouraged if no additional business value is gained. However, just as you had stated (and I suffer the same problem), you had to get the new gadget and most sales people suffer the same disease :). This being said...I have seen Sales and/or Marketing becoming the first areas of the organization to adopt this change in mentality. Example is is an app on any platform, the app it self is secure (I say that with obvious caveats) and it can be accessed OTA/wired/wifi. This is the transformation you are seeing happen in the industry.....Back to the point.....How do you define Busness Value in today's Gen X, Y, Z? I see business value as a two way street more now than ever. What I mean is that the corporation that leaves the platform management and ownership to the employee and the ability to work productively from the platform to the employer.....You have a happy and more productive employee and in Sales, that means more to the bottom line (in theory). Virtualization technologies (VMware View/XenDesktop) are not going to solve this.....although good for legacy IT shops that have not migrated their apps to secure cloud based applications and have control issues (mean that with all respect), the virtualization technologies are a crutch to the end game (cloud based applications). Don't get me wrong, I am not nieve to think that not all applications (especially legacy) will make it to the cloud. Cloud applications are an innovation to the organization (and customers) and should be treated as a strategic direction for the organization. How many orgizations do you know that have budget for innovation these days? :)

Innovation and Choice

Hey Jason,

I think I addressed some of your comments in my response to Dave but I did want to comment on the choice and innovation points.

Platform choice makes sense if you have some market or internal results that back up improvements in productivity, access, or employee happiness. Paradoxically, IMO, too many choices hurt end users and IT orgs. Is there really a need to give someone a choice between a Dell, HP, or Lenovo laptop that are essentially the same machine? Would you provide a choice beween email services? No, that's unnecessary and not worth it.

The more services we move to the cloud though, the more this becomes irrelevant. IT can become a broker of support and operations services but isn't responsible by the maintenance and operations work itself. At that point, users really can consume services on any device that they would like.

Innovation for IT is hard inside of a single company. There's so much pressure on keeping the wheels on the bus and getting new stuff deployed as part of regular business, that finding the time or budget to evaluate IT services holistically just doesn't happen that often.

That's where I think IT Business Analyst types come in. Call them whatever you want, but these are the people who understand IT and understand the needs of the particular line of business that the support. It's their responsibility to be deep enough on the business to see areas that might need help. It's also their responsibility to keep abreast of changes in technology, vendors, market directions, and take that information to recommend changes in approaches. These are the people who saw the mess that Siebel was creating in their sales org, and said that even though Salesforce sounded out there as far as a solution was concerned, it was worth trying. And now, it's a rare organization that would consider going back once they've made the leap.

That was probably more than 2cents worth but there you have it :-)


Agree totally

I am with you on this one. Check out my "Empowered Users Will Change How Business Software Is Served" Forrester report from October 2010. Your colleagues at the time actually didn't agree with me. But you might want to envelope it for Ian Oliver as they cannot see it now.

Thank you for the support, Peter


Thank you for the support. One of the things that I think differentiates Forrester -- and the main reason why I joined -- is that as an organization, Forrester understands the business value of empowerment. More than that though, I believe it has (we have) the expertise to help organizations deliver on the seemingly conflicting goals of both increased security AND empowerment and choice. While everyone else is pushing for locking down everything but the keyboard itself, we are actually showing IT organizations how to make better trade-offs between productivity and risk.


Some IT corps manage diversity well..

I used a Mac for everything while I was writing my Ph.D, and I also made some extra money working on dealer training weeks.

My first job after university was with IBM R&D. Many people there found it incredibly funny that I was confounded by the Windows command line, but I was never pressured to abandon my MacBook. After all OS X is UNIX and works well with many of IBM's RedHad Linux products.

Nobody called me a "rogue". I was offered an IBM laptop, but I couldn't see the point, so I was left in peace.

Of course, this was in an R&D area. I wouldn't expect people to be so flexible in sales.

When the guy loses his Mac

When the guy loses his Mac and has his data stolen, he goes "hero" to "zero". That's what happens when you let anyone do whatever they want with no regards to security or policies.

IMHO, it's better to use something like Citrix Receiver and let users connect to a VDI, which provides a consistent, seamless desktop environment from any device. And when the genius loses his laptop, he won't give away the family jewels.

Not quite, Joe.


This is an easy dilemma to solve.

Turn on FileVault 2 or deploy a 3rd party drive encryption tool, if information theft when the laptop is stolen is the concern. FileVault 2 can be turned off by the user with some clever command line cookery, but tools like Casper suite can make sure it stays turned on.

Citrix is great. Have you tried to use VDI on airport WiFi? Local virtual desktops are a better solution for traveling workers.

Moral: Who works for who, Joe? Perhaps the policies show no regard for Mr. Zero. The goal should be to find a solution that doesn't cripple the employee, and my job is to help you. If WE fail to do this, Zero will go around the system, and IT has given him every reason to do so because they have shown no regard or understanding for what he needs to work productively.

The good news: I've talked to many companies these past few months who have found terrific solutions. Confucius say: Don't interrupt the man already doing something to tell him it can't be done!

The employees of the organization are not villains, Joe - they're customers!