Companies blocking RSS

Shel Holtz has provided a good discussion around companies blocking access to RSS and other services. Trevor Cook’s blog (Is your IT department the real enemy?) and the comments also need to be read.

In case you hadn’t heard about it, some companies have begun blocking RSS feeds at the firewall. The rationale for this short-sighted, counterproductive bit of paranoid stupidity ranges from bandwidth worries to productivity concerns.

For Immediate Release” podcast from an IABC colleague who informed us that his company has a policy against watching or listening to any streams at work due to bandwidth concerns; they also are forbidden from downloading MP3 files. So employees here can’t determine whether a citizen marketer has made a negative commercial about their company and posted it to YouTube or listen to a business-focused podcast during lunch. Brilliant. And all to protect precious bandwidth.

These decisions around bandwidth are so yesterday. Any organization that is concerend about bandwidth in this manner, has not entered the Internet age.

But many companies haven’t figured out yet that today’s web isn’t the same web around which they built their in-house capabilities back in 1999 or earlier.

The Internet is the #1 information and communications tool for any business. Controlling access goes against all good business sense.

I’ve covered the reasons this philosophy represents the height of cluelessness, but to recap…

  • An employee’s home computer is a personal tool, but it gets used for work all the time. Work-life integration is the name of the game today. If you expect me to take work home, then expect me to live part of my life at work.
  • The measure of productivity is how much work is getting done, not how much time an employee spends on non-work-related activities. Employees will stay late, come in early, or take work home. They won’t simply let it slide. Nobody wants to lose his job so he can check sports scores on ESPN.
  • Nobody ever got fired for checking sports scores at work in the New York Times. The web is the new newspaper.
  • Telling employees you don’t trust them—any of them—is a great way to earn some of the lowest engagement scores in the business world. (Trust is a key determinant of engagement and commitment.) Companies with large populations of highly engaged employees earn double-digit growth. Those with large populations of actively disengaged employees earn zero or negative growth. So which is preferable: locked down computers and no growth or open access and double-digit growth?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.