Is technology a form of compensation for employees?I had an interesting thought inspired by a customer recently. An executive was describing the situation with high performing employees. To paraphrase the situation: “If they can’t get business closed quickly and at any time, they’ll find a new company where they can do that.” This is but one example where workers are compensated for sales, but I wonder if that extends beyond simple monetary motivation. Employees take pride in a job well done, they like to be empowered and supported, and feel that they are aligned with company goals. Lack of technology investment hurts this type of culture you may have worked hard to create. I’ve been in the IT business for over 20 years. I could spend a day helping end-users at almost any organization and get a feel for the “technology morale” of the team. When it’s bad, IT becomes a bit of a joke around the office, where expectations are low about systems working, long convoluted workflows are typical as people grouse about how having a computer doesn’t save them any time. People become impressively creative in working around limited technology, whether it be e-mailing themselves files to be able to work remotely, setting their home computer up to access work, or about 1000 other ways I’ve seen of figuring out how to work within technology limitations.

All the compensation for lack of technology takes up a lot of productive time. And puts the idea in employees heads that getting stuff done quickly and correctly, is not a priority of the company. Management might think they would get feedback if this was a problem, but I have seen time and again that employees think asking for a wish list of changes to fundamental systems is too big of an ask, or they simply don’t know how things could be better or how the company would get there.

Down to the nuts and bolts what I see is: Holding on to legacy applications or delaying upgrade cycles because “we know this software so well”. Resisting migrations to cloud services that make working, sharing and communicating easier to avoid the pain of making changes and fear the team will not adapt. And lastly my own personal pet peeve, being cheap with computers. Sometimes there is no bound to management’s short-sightedness on the initial purchase price of a computer. Buying the best equipment that employees use literally all day for years, for a mere tiny fraction of what you are paying the employee in salary…there is no single better investment. But hey I am writing this from my $2600 laptop so you know where I stand on that. What do you think about good technology: a perk for employees or just an expected utility like an office chair?

Andrew K Sharicz, CISSP