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Losing the Wood for the Trees

Internet policies are a window on the corporate soul. I see this manifesting in two noticeable differentiators: connectivity and social media.

Connectivity in the hospitality industry is still a work in progress. Way back in 2007, I was part of a team working with a local boutique hotel. They were charging around R800 ($80) then per room and R30 an hour for wifi access. Many guests resented the additional charges, as most needed a few hours of data access,  even then. We suggested that the hotel simply incorporate an additional $10 fee per room, and promote their ‘free wifi’. Needless to say, they became a preferred venue for business travellers.

Imagine my surprise, then, at being asked to pay R35 for 100Mb or R250 for 500Mb, when staying over at a 4-star hotel in Cape Town this week, 7 years later. By the way, their wifi signal in my room was weak, to boot. I opted to ask locals where an Internet Café was, and found a super-fast connection at R10 per hour was within walking distance. I was left feeling that the hotel was conservative, technologically impoverished and unfriendly to business. The stay was linked to our first time holding a conference at their venue, too. I doubt I’ll even consider them again. By the way,  most Cape Townian establishments would do well to reconsider their parking system. This same venue charged R60 per vehicle per day! Others were a more modest R20. If you have limited space, why not offer VIP guests free parking, and guarded on-street parking for others? As for speed of access in large corporates, there is room for improvement. At a large international bank yesterday, a slow connection affected our webinar, and the impression created was at odds with being viewed as a market-leading institution.

When considering Social media policies, too, there are two main schools of thought: punitive and permissive. The punitive way limits access to non-server applications and blocks social media sites. This is akin to a Theory X (McGregor) approach, which assumes people are untrustworthy and need to be controlled. The alternative understands that people are more engaged, contributory and sharing of knowledge when they feel respected, trusted and identify with the organisation or brand. Theory Y, if you will. In a world of virtual teams, known to be VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), surely the latter is more appropriate?

What do your policies reveal about your organisation?

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