3 Reasons Not to Let IT Choose Your Webmeeting Platform

Last Updated Apr 19, 2010 7:10 AM EDT

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when rolling out technology like webmeeting platforms is to leave the decision in the hands of IT. After all, IT stands for Information Technology -- webmeetings deliver information, and they do it via technology. Who else should make that call?

The short answer is that decision should be made in consultation with IT, to be sure. There are security and compatibility issues that can't be wished away. But the people who should be making the decisions on what tools to use are those who are expected to use it -- sales, marketing, even HR and mere mortals like end users should have a greater say than they currently do in most companies.

Here are three reasons IT shouldn't be the sole decision maker, based on work I've done with clients:

  1. IT is often more worried about control than communication. In her book, "8 Things We Hate About IT", Susan Cramm puts it succinctly: "You need service, IT needs control." At a big international bank in the Midwest, IT chose a platform that sits firmly behind their firewall and is easily monitored and secure. The problem is that the tool they chose doesn't work beyond the firewall, and 50 percent of training is done for remote sites around the world that aren't on the same system and can't access the tool. The training and functional units are behind goal, screaming like banshees, and IT won't budge. They're measured on security, and by crikey, it's secure. Useless, but completely secure. If the tool will be used by training, that's who should determine what they need and then give the specs to IT -- not the other way around.
  2. IT doesn't care if you use the tool -- in fact they wish you wouldn't. I recently had a VP of IT tell me something that made my head spin. They have 250 LiveMeeting licenses (it could just as easily be WebEx or Adobe Connect, or 100 others) that few people are using (a colossal waste of money) -- and he likes it that way. "If they don't use them, we don't have to service them," he said. (That's a direct quote; it's in my notes!) Operations and Finance folks should be driving the use and purchase of these tools: they're paying for them and aren't getting a return on investment. If the VP of Sales wonders why they're paying for a webinar platform that isn't being used that's not IT's fault.
  3. Just because they know what it does, doesn't mean they can train you. Whichever tool they choose, when it comes time to use it, IT will tell you, "We don't have time to spend training and answering questions. We just send people to the vendor's website if they have questions." And they're right. In defense of these folks, their job is not to train users in the proper use of the tools,=; that belongs at the functional level. Let me ask you something -- do you want your sales people being taught how to do a good sales demo by the same person who fixes your hard drive? Just because the presentations you make will take place via technology doesn't make it an IT problem. Training on a new tool rightly belongs alongside any other training for the job. If you leave it in someone else's hands, you deserve what you get -- as with so much in life.
Form should follow function. Find out what you want a webmeeting platform to do for you and your team, then work with IT to find a solution that will accomplish what you need -- without making your hardworking tech folks crazy. Getting what you want without antagonizing the people in charge of your passwords sounds like the most productive work you'll accomplish all week.

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photo by flickr user scazon CC 2.0