“The user should have a choice”

That’s the opinion of Phil Atkinson, the head of IT for the company I work for. The choice to which he refers is whether to work on a Mac or a PC.

The subject came up when I noticed a stack of new MacBook Airs in the IT area. “Just wait till next week,” I was told. “We’ll have a bunch more.”

Since the Dawn of Digital Time, the IT gods purchased and deployed no-nonsense PC clones (like the brown lace-up choose your mom made you wear when you were a kid). The deciding factors were cost and ease of maintenance for the network guys.

And then one day employees started bringing their personal computers (always a Mac) to work, rather than endure a life on Windows. I was one of those employees back in 2006. The PC was connected to the network for Outlook and all the rest, but for anything fun or creative, I turned to the Mac.

As others saw what the Mac could do, a few more started showing up. At first it was some of the IT guys who opted for Mac’s and then a couple of senior management types with the juice to get what they wanted.

And just a few years later, there’s that stack of Mac’s with more on the way. What the fuck?

Cloud computing played a part in this evolution. You could do stuff without even being connected to the company network.

The iPhone and the iPad, of course. Employees were buying smart phones and loving them. “Uh, you can keep the BlackBerry, I’m cool.”

Where many (most?) IT departments would have circled the wagons and refused to support anything but those lovely beige H-P’s, our guys understood their role to be one of support, not impediment. If employees want to purchase and use their own hardware, let’s try to find a way to make that work.

Not so very long ago, most raised-on-Windows employees would have been afraid to learn a new operating system. Apple is changing that. Everybody knows how to use a web browser. And most of us are getting pretty familiar with apps.

Microsoft Office? No question, still a big factor. But more for my generation than the new ones.

The workplace is changing. Do I need and office with a desk with a big black phone on it? Or can I get just as much done from home or the coffee shop?

I can’t wait to see what happens next. Whatever it might be, our IT guys are trying to make it easier and more fun.

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