Information Technology managers have to deal with "new" often as technology itself changes daily, but as the work force gets younger, IT managers also have to deal with "young".
The challenge, in my mind, is going to be how to "Manage IT", but provide the resources and creative outlets to meet the demands of the next "young" generation. The generation growing up in the socially connected world of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, and beyond... WAY beyond in fact as new ways to communicate and work are added every day. Where time at work and time at play have no clean edges. Sometimes that is good - the melding of personal communication and work skills at least in the Government world where MORE transparency, collaboration, and participation is not only desired but ENCOURAGED and not only for our citizens and customers of the government, but for it's employees as well.
"UnManaging" Managed IT
For those that have managed networks, systems, applications and Internet access for very long, you know the challenges faced to keep that balance - Secured and controlled, but not restraining. Of course 'restraining' seems to be quite relative depending upon if you are "in" IT or not. To some not being able to spend all work day on Myspace, Facebook and Youtube IS 'restraining', for others anything besides official "approved" websites is insubordination. Finding the balance both technically and administratively is one of the bigger challenges I see facing IT and management in the future.
Obviously you have to empower your employees, citizens and customers to use the modern tools of communicating and getting things done while insuring all this is done without wasted time, resources, and money. Letting things "be free" while not giving away the farm... or City... or country in the process. A place where fewer FILTERED SITE ACCESS LOGGED screens are encountered but more productivity is obtained through true collaboration and communication.
But it takes more than just empowering citizens and employees to use social media tools to do their job better, it also takes the mature use of those tools by employees AND citizens for the betterment of the entity, not just the enjoyment and entertainment of the employee or the anonymous bashing of public officials or entities by the Citizens.
Can it be done? Sure. HOW can it be done? Not sure..... yet.
It should be very interesting in the next few years as "Gov2.0" concepts take over the historically bland world of local, state, and national governments entities.
Stay tuned - the ride should be worth watching.
-Stephen W Nolen
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