Which apps should you support and make standard? Try the crowdsourcing approach!

One of the challenges facing today's IT departments is that because end users can easily choose whatever apps they want, the users do choose whatever apps they want!

One of the challenges facing today's IT departments is that because end users can easily choose whatever apps they want, the users do choose whatever apps they want! I was at an event recently in Boston and I ran into one of TechTarget's internal IT guys. (TechTarget is the company I work for. So in that context, I'm one of the "pesky users" that IT is always worried about.) I mentioned something about some app that I was using that was cool and asking why we didn't use this app for everyone, and the IT guy basically said, "Well, we had no idea you liked that app. If you would have told us, we could have supported you instead of you going rogue."

Oh. Right.

That got me thinking: There are many versions millions of apps available to users and thousands of apps that have very legitimate business use cases. But there is no way that IT can ever stay out in front of the lists of apps to decide what's best. So I'm now advocating that we flip the model. Instead of IT evaluating the applications and deciding which ones should become the corporate standards, why not just ask the users?

I'm not suggesting that you literally ask every user what apps he or she uses. But maybe you can collect the data at the firewall or run some kind of audit on their devices. Then if a user asks, "What task management app should I use for iPhone that integrated with our VPN and Exchange Server, you could do a quick check and say, "Oh, well I see 432 users currently use THIS, so if it's working for them then it should work for you!"

To be clear, I'm not suggesting using this crowdsourcing concept as a form of security or whitelist. Just because 90% of your users have DropBox doesn't mean that DropBox should be the corporate data sync app that you use. But 90% of users using DropBox does mean that (1) there's a need for that kind of functionality, and (2) if you pick a corporate app, it better have the same features as DropBox.

So what do you think? Can we ask the masses what apps we should support?

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Frederick Winslow Taylor, known as the father of scientific management, maintained that there is one best known way to do everything. The same thing applies with apps. Crowdsourcing is a good way to identify which apps should be made standard, but then those should be the only ones allowed/supported unless someone can show that a different app provides superior functionality. The potential loss in individual productivity/satisfaction is more than compensated by aggregate efficiencies.


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Isn't that the exact opposite of consumerization? Sure, it may be more efficient for every person to buy and drive the same car, but part of the human condition is that we all love different things?


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Nice article and I like the idea. Maybe it will get me WordPerfect back!


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F.W. Taylor's ideas made the twentieth century a miserable place to live - the sooner we see the back of his pernicious cult the better, If capitalism is to survive it has to begin to take better care of people and the environment.


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