“I’m a back door man, I’m a back door man
The CIO don’t know, but the users understand.”
Well, maybe those aren’t the exact lyrics sung by Jim Morrison (or Howlin’ Wolf). Yet much of the information technology used by enterprises is first snuck in the back door by users rather than invited in the front door by the CIO.
The personal computer was a prime example of back door technology. Back in the 1980s, while the IT department ran their mainframes and minicomputers, department managers were stuck tracking budgets and forecasts with adding machines and pads of paper. But a PC with spreadsheet software made those tasks much simpler and quicker. (By the way, you can still download and run original VisiCalc. Only 27,520 bytes!) A departmental budget could absorb the cost of several thousand dollars, and getting started was simple enough. Soon PCs were showing up everywhere.