IT Leaders Say Too Much Info Can Be a Dangerous Thing
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While every department of a business has its own tricks of the trade, the IT division has more than its fair share. From passwords to software to servers, IT professionals are charged with the responsibility of keeping every aspect of the technical side of a business up and running.
And a number of IT leaders say they’re hesitant to share their secrets with the rest of the organization, despite large overlaps between their department and the rest of the company.
"A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing," explained IT and telecom expert Richard Longview, the founder of Telecom611.com. "I think in the IT and telecom space, there is very limited value to sharing with people the technical or strategic views of what's going on."
Heather Jones, chief executive of Training Experts Inc, an IT training consulting firm, said she strongly believes in providing non-IT employees with only the basics they must know to do their job – and keeping the rest under wraps.
"Non-IT employees should only be responsible for that IT information that is absolutely necessary for their everyday survival," Jones said. "This separates the duties of the IT department and the non-IT folks."
For instance, Jones said, every employee should be provided with logon information; procedures for resetting a password; instructions for installing printers, devices and other applications; basic troubleshooting advice, and contact details for tech support.
"It only makes sense that users should only have the minimum [amount of information] available at their disposal," Jones said. "In a large enterprise, IT must be treated as a separate department just like any other, as its services comprise the worker's daily existence, much like HR and Finance do."
Giving non-IT users extremely sensitive information – such as authentication and access information for secure servers – would be going too far.
"I enjoy being able to trust employees with information, as it ensures an open, trusting, enabling atmosphere,” Jones said. “However, many end-users only know how to use a computer, rather than how to secure one properly."
Atlanta-based IT consultant Matt Podowitz agreed. Arming non-IT employees with anything more than the basics is simply not constructive.
"Too much information, without the proper context, doesn't give the user anything but a basis for which to criticize by," he said.
When IT information has to be shared with non-IT employees, Podowitz added, he encourages IT managers to provide it in a way that shows the employees what it means for the business as a whole.
"All of those metrics, without a context, provide very little to the business people," Podowitz said. "Provide information in the context of what it means for the business – and not the IT department."
There will be times, Longview told IT TechNewsDaily, when providing more than the basics is necessary. He pointed to the budgeting process, when it is critical to show the company's executives where, and on what, their money is being spent.
"That is a time when it is best to communicate a lot to the senior people up the chain," Longview said.
Podowitz noted that the budgeting process is when IT leaders can show off just how useful their department is. "Then you are able to say, 'Look at all this additional value we were able to bring to the business,' " he said.
While Jones warned against providing too much IT information in large corporations, she said it is more safely shared in companies with fewer than 30 employees, where everyone is of a relatively high technical caliber.
“You essentially have IT capacity dissolved into a perfectly capable employee pool, where accountability to each other is the order of the day," Jones said. "This enforces security and excellent IT standards."