Yes, Virginia, consumer software is better than corporate software

This is completely, desperately, and viciously true. I’ve experienced it myself.

A few months ago the CIO was asked by the chief marketing officer to provide a way for marketing employees around the world to share and build documents together, and perform other collaborative tasks.

The CIO discussed the project with his application development group, then went back to the CMO and said “we can do this, in nine months at a cost of $14 million,” according to Whitehurst.

“The CMO says “what are you talking about? I was describing my daughter’s high school science project.” And they were on Google Documents, sharing information, jointly editing documents, and they’re doing it for free. This is a true story. I may have been slightly off on the numbers, but a true story.”

via Google Docs creates expectations CIOs can’t meet, Red Hat CEO says.

The problem, however, is not that this is possible, or that this is competition. The problem is that this is seen as a problem.

Because there’s a very easy solution here: Google Apps for the enterprise. Or Microsoft Office Live. Or a number of different readily available and fairly cheap solutions.

CIOs must, however, get over their NIH (not invented here) mentality, and be open to using distributed tools that don’t necessarily live on their servers and are not necessarily controlled by the organization.

Security is an issue, control is an issue, coordination is an issue, searching and archiving and knowledge management is an issue … true.

But the biggest issue is LETTING PEOPLE DO THEIR WORK EFFICIENTLY AND EFFECTIVELY. That’s the first requirement.

After that … you figure out the rest.