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Eight is enough! IT's biggest frenemies

Dan Tynan | June 11, 2013
Colleagues can be both allies and adversaries -- here's how IT can cope with the eight worst types of coworkers

You probably have a good idea about who your enemies are. But what about your frenemies?

These are people you deal with on a regular basis, largely because you have no choice. But even when their intentions are good, they can still cause you all manner of grief. They range from BYOD Betty, who insists on using her iPhone at work (but wants you to support it) to Cloudy Claudette, who's running her own shadow IT organization with the help of public cloud providers.

It could be Pedro, the work-at-home manager who never takes off his pajamas but expects tech support to be at his beck and call 24/7, or Leaky Louis, who also brings work files home, until she inevitably loses them. You might work with Frightened Frank, the chief security officer whose vocabulary consists of a single word ("no") or HR Harriet, the human resources head who makes hiring even more hellish than it should be.

And if Legacy Larry is your CEO, you might still be using hardware or software that hasn't been updated since the grunge era.

The biggest problem with frenemies is that you have to work with these people. You might even have to be nice to them. But while you may never end up BFFs, you don't have to put up with all their shenanigans. Here are eight common frenemies and how to keep them in check.

IT frenemy No. 1: Legacy Larry
The new senior manager with the perfect cure for your IT woes — and it's only 20 years old.

You know Larry. He's the new boss who's brought his favorite tech tools with him — the same ones he used at his last job and the one before that. Now he's decided that everyone has to use them. Larry can also be the CEO who'll cling to old technology "as long as it still works," no matter how paleolithic or performance sapping it may be.

Anthony R. Howard recalls having to convince one Legacy Larry to replace the 15-year-old 10/100Mbps switches in his network with newer 10-gigabit models.

"I told him, 'I remember this model; it came out when I was in college,'" says Howard, a best-selling author ("The Invisible Enemy: Black Fox") and independent technology consultant for Fortune 50 companies and the U.S. military. "'Technology has come a long way since 'The Matrix' came out, Larry. Your network is now running 100 times slower than it should be.'"

Robert King, principal of management consulting firm EntelliProj, was working with an organization in the mid-2000s built around Microsoft Exchange. A newly hired senior manager convinced the board that Lotus Notes was the collaboration tool of the future. After nearly two years, a steep learning curve, and a vast expenditure of IT resources, Notes was fully deployed — just as Microsoft SharePoint began getting traction in the marketplace.

 

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