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Tapping Employees’ Tech Lust
WSJ – Michael Totty
Oct. 24, 2005
Fidelity Investments’ Center for Applied Technology, which develops and
tests new technologies for the Boston-based mutual-fund giant,
encourages employees to try out new innovations — within limits.
Recently the center began testing the open-source Firefox browser, an
alternative to Microsoft’s dominant Internet Explorer. Charlie Brenner,
a Fidelity senior vice president in charge of the center, says the idea
came from engineers in his department who were using it at home and
liked Firefox’s advanced features, such as the ability to open new
browser windows in tabs rather than in a whole separate browser, and its
promise of being more secure from hacker attacks than Explorer.
The center has recruited several hundred volunteers from around the
company to try Firefox on their computers, mainly to see whether the
browser’s security controls are “industrial strength,” says Mr. Brenner.
He expects Firefox ultimately will be permitted for use on its computers
in addition to Explorer.
Mr. Brenner cautions that while the center encourages employees to be
unrestrained in their ideas, they’re not permitted to try out new
technologies on their own. “Too much freedom is chaos,” he says. “We
can’t just let a hundred flowers bloom.”