Sunday, April 8, 2012

Surprised & Shocked: Usage of internet for browsing in Indian companies

Surprised & Shocked: Usage of internet for browsing in Indian companies

Met lot of CIOs of many Indian & MNC Bangalore based outfits and was shocked to find the fact that most companies won’t allow their employees to access the web (internet, browsing, video download, p2p, gmail, chatting etc) atall and they expect people to use their 3g enabled devices for such purposes and on their costing/network. Those companies who do allow will ration the time they use with some allowing only an hour at lunch time to some allowing few hours in non-business hours to few allowing round the clock but with a time limit for a given user within the 24-hour period.

No I am not arguing whether this is right or wrong and I am not arguing what is right but I was shocked when I found out this fact. I have been working in Bangalore for last 15 years and in that time frame worked for many companies but they were either my own or managed them for my US counterpart and never we did this rationing other than blocking few classes of sites for obvious reasons. Even if they had proposed such a block or rationing I would have vehemently opposed as I believe trusting people and measuring people based on work allotted rather than time worked. I think we need to move away from the time model which was introduced way back in the industrialization era in the manufacturing industry where obviously time worked was almost directly proportional to  the productivity and most were manual labour.

Anyways there are two issues here. One is related to allowing people independence to browse network at will and any amount, which is more of an HR issue and also cost to the company (bandwidth cost and perceived productivity loss) and second is how you manage such a bandwidth which is metered.

First one is something we need to take a holistic approach and even get all stake holders to the table including the employees, HR, Finance etc and have a discussion to see do the company really save money by restricting the bandwidth by rationing like this and will you really lose productivity which is a hard metric to measure in today’s creative 24X7 work culture. I don’t believe in it and in all my 20+ years of experience I have seen that people are more productive when you give them the freedom they want, measure them by work done and not meter things that way – this is very critical in a creative work culture.

Anyways coming to the second issue of how to manage bandwidth in such a case becomes a totally a different ball game and hence the precise reason why Western companies tools fail to fit into the Indian CIO’s idle tool scenario. This gave me a totally different idea on what metrics to show, what features to include, how to shape (throttle) and effectively manage the whole bandwidth and what else to include to make the CIO in the Indian context very happy and I am very happy that I learnt all these at the right time – as they say – In Rome, do what the Romans do and more so in India :-) :-)

(The Author is the CEO of India startup company focussed on bandwidth management and tools mainly targeting Indian SMBs)

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