CIO Forum: Why IT bosses fear Google

And why they love Mountain View too...
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

And why they love Mountain View too...

Speaking today at the silicon.com CIO Forum in London, some of the UK's top CIOs have revealed they both love and fear search behemoth Google.

According to Ken Davis, IT director at Channel 5, the schizophrenic attitude that surrounds Google is common for technologists who work in any content producing industry.

He said: "We build walls, castles, and we say [Google is] OK for consumers but it's not OK for our organisation. That doesn't make sense."

But it's not the ubiquity and dominance of Google web search that's giving CIOs sleepless nights, it's the power of Google's Desktop and its ability to index and make public what could be potentially sensitive corporate data.

Peter Maddigan, associate director, IT systems at Budget Insurance, said: "I know if I, as the person responsible for IT, advocate using Google in an organisation and as a consequence a proposed acquisition was compromised, I'd lose my job."

Other CIOs had fears about how their staff could be using Google's facilities. Chris Robinson, CIO of Staffordshire County Council, questioned the usefulness of workers accessing data that is often without provenance. "We put a lot of time and money into knowledge management but people go to Google. Is that really the information you want people going to?" he said.

However, several IT heads agreed Google is already too omnipresent in the enterprise to be stopped - and instead said it's up to the IT department to create awareness of appropriate use of the tech giant's tools within the enterprise.

Victor Kemeny, IT director of William Hill, recommended taking a more long term approach to managing consumer tech tools in organisations. "We should worry about what comes after Google - Google is already here," he said.

It's not an argument that cut any ice with IT director of Expotel, Luke Mellors. "The idea that we shouldn't fear Google because it's here I don't think is a very good argument. Nuclear weapons are here and I fear them. We should fear them - through fear we can control them better," he told the silicon.com CIO Forum.

However, the US search giant received as many plaudits as it did punches. Staffordshire County Council's Robinson said: "We are corporate CIOs. In terms of my role, we have 10,000 corporate PCs - I can do what I like, lock them down. But the ones in schools... children are using technology and as CIOs we should be pleased. If it weren't for Google I don't think kids would be interested in PCs."

Channel 5's Davis added: "We should learn from [Google]... there's lots and lots about them we should emulate."

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