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2 empowerment for end-users – conundrum

October 17th, 2007 · No Comments ·

Recently we posted:

1 empowerment for end-users

We provided a definition of empowerment but some of our readers where not that happy with it and felt either it was too complicated or too vague. So below we have tried to make it a bit clearer.

Empowerment – what is it? (Please click on the above link, Login as guest – click on the link again and voila free access).
1 It is a multi-dimensional concept …. hence economic as well as sociological aspects must be considered (e.g., you may lack the cash to empower yourself with the best defense)
2 Empowerment also occurs at various levels (hence, while we empower one group of users, we may disenfranchise another group).
3 Empowerment, by definition, is a social process —- if one person in the family gest more power how does it affect the others, as well as
4 Empowerment is a process that is similar to a path or journey – it is a never ending jounrey that changes over time.
We are starting a series of postings that addresses this issue in some more depth. All hyperlinks provide you with detailed definitions of these terms from the CyTRAP glossary – getting the jargon right — (Please click on the link, Login as guest – click on this link again and voila free access)

Empowerment follows the above four characteristics if we want to describe it in any situation. But, as shown previously the more complex things get the more likely is it that users fail to get any empowerment whatsoever.When it comes to empowerment, however, IT seems to forget frequently that it has to follow three points very carefully:

1) making sure that things do not break (do no harm – Hippocratic oath);
2) fixing the things that break; and
3) introducing new things that they don’t break old things

Unfortunately, new technology often introduces things that may break some old ones (machines no longer run proper) or confuse users with other stuff that seems unnecessary.

As well, having a vision about doing something regarding empowerment is important but we should not forget:

– vision without execution is nothing

Therefore, we need to map what users and executives need from IT services (i.e. plan and deliver quality IT services) and how this all relates to the environment – delivering services and, most importantly, how it effects user empowerment. This is a key issue for managing IT effectively.

A better approach, to improve IT service delivery and user empowerment by design is to focus on the real problem by:

– leveraging existing investments
– making policies and exception management work properly, and assure that
– decentralized technology management paradigms make sense and work in practice
But even that can be a nightmare because installing a new font using Windows might be a nightmare for a user unless he or she knows what must be done.

CyTRAP Labs quicktip – installing fonts in Windows

Deciding the appropriate action regarding a request by one’s machine and firewall to allow outgoing traffic from the Windows operating system is overwhelming for most end-users. And no, just letting the system decide for the user does not mean the latter is now empowered. To the contrary, letting the system decide means the user has lost another bit of control over the system since he has no clue why it does certain things but refuses to do others.


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