Hardware

Poll: Which consumer technology causes the most havoc for your IT department?


The widespread use of consumer technologies such as smartphones, Web mail, and USB flash drives has made it easier for users to communicate and to share and transport their personal and work data. But it has also resulted in many additional headaches and new challenges for IT departments. We'd like to know which ones are having the biggest impact on your IT department.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

9 comments
stools
stools

I think IT is changing in many ways. This is onlt one of the manifestations. The challenge is getting employees and IT departments to understand what they are being asked to do from an upper mgmt level. If an IT department is told that the internet is slow by upper management but that they can't buy more pipe, bit torrent should be evaluated as to whether it is wise for the whole organization. And an organizational wide approach has to win out. Any employee can selfishly go maverick for his own needs and workflows. In that instance, his director is really at fault or should be a part of the solution to upper management. IT cannot be the whole problem, but neither are the employees. Policies are set above us both, that cause us to do the things we do. {if we don't do them, we need to leave and go work for some place without rules...sometime prior to y2k and Sept 11 is the only way.} Let's be understanding of the fact. Other departments are not our enemy they hopefully, most of the time, are trying to do their job just like we need to do ours

lucy.thompson
lucy.thompson

As an IT professional in a Not for Profit, I have often had to use all the consumer technology that you mention because there is just not enough money in the budget... however when users do not consult the IT department when using this technology and they lose their work then what? We're (IT'ers) doomed if we do and we're doomed if we don't.

gipsonp
gipsonp

It's not the technology, it is the uneducated user. We are so locked down it is difficult to do one's job.

josil
josil

IT departments, like all bureaucracies, move in the direction of control because it makes their job easier. Unfortunately, these bureaucracies very often miss the point: Control for what?

mollenhourb
mollenhourb

Locking everything down, as one respondent advocates, doesn't work. It also misses the whole message of Gartner's report. As for "uneducated", it is often the IT department who is uneducated. I also fault upper management for ceding too much power to them. In many cases, they are trying to enforce policies that should really be enforced at the manager/employee level (e.g. how did we enforce "no porn" policies before computers. Answer: you got caught by your manager with a Playboy in your desk, you got fired. No IT necessary). Unfortunately, at the State of Michigan it is the Department of Information Technology that causes the Department of Information Technology the most problems.

stools
stools

I'm sure you are real fun user to deal with there at the university! A real low maintenance user....! No thanks! I worked in an academic setting in IT and I am so glad I've got distance from "know technology better than IT" students. Yuk! Ebels Just get it over with and hack the network. And reap the consequences.

hteasley
hteasley

You are correct! The IT staff is usually uneducated or under-educated. For example, you can't push down applications, fixes and patches from the server level if you haven't tested them and this happens all too frequently! Furthermore, upper management usually doesn't understand the technology; therefore, they count on the IT staff to monitor Internet and computer usage. As the senior sys admin where I work, monitoring Internet usage cuts into valuable time where I can actually be working on something more important like testing applications before they are deployed...

rw
rw

Consumerisation as Gartner put it. my answer would be all of the above. Time to kick everyone off the server network only allow the untamperable apps out plus little no data on the machine and let users do whatever... up to a point! BP oil company are on their way to this solution. If only the pushed out apps process can use the secure encrypted tunnel then the rest of the processes on the (nodeless) PC just don't matter. No havoc!

teuvo
teuvo

It is quite hard to answer to a simplified question "Which of the threats below is the greatest" - as most of those also have some business functions. Some may be very useful, others may be considered quite the opposite. Therefore I want to express my viewpoints in a lengthy maeer, as the answers are not simple at all. I am working for a major Electronics Manufacturing company, on the R&D department. My current work is not one of an IT professional, but earlier in my career I have worked with network configuration and security issues. In my current role of a R&D manager I have witnessed - I am afraid, probably too typical - mix of IT policies and practices. What I mean, is maybe easiest to clarify by example(s). It looks like the IT department is not fully understanding the variety of legitimate needs of different departments and professions, but is shoehorning a standard solution on everyone. For instance: an URL filter, using some "ready-bought" list of "bad" sites might work for the factories, but for R&D it happily blocks several sites providing useful information about the latest technology and competition. So - people find all kinds of inventive ways to access those sites, such as using some suitable proxies. That kind of obstacles may be worse for network integrity, than the original issue of accessing some "bad" sites. Besides, the URL tables are never up-to-date for very long, and do not protect too perfectly against whatever was the original target group. Users are often also in varying degree uneducated and careless, often installing whatever they feel might be either useful, or just plain fun. IT dept. is thus trying to enforce some mechanisms and restrictions, which users experience as stupid, patronizing, and preventing to do their work. As a result, the respect of "law" is reduced further. This looks like a loose-loose -situation: -- By installing the maximum of restrictions and controls, the IT dept will seriously disturb people's work, especially in creative work, such as R&D -- By not taking proper measures, the network integrity may (and will!) be seriously risked. My conclusion is therefore: -- Educate, motivate, educate, motivate. Both IT and the rest of the pack. -- Develop some kind of graduated restriction categories: What is fine on a factory floor, is poison on R&D, or marketing intelligence -gathering groups. -- Prioritize the threats versus useful functions/benefits. Based on that, offer specific and attractive solutions For instance, USB sticks are both a blessing, and a great threat. By offering easy-to-use encryption software, and some education and discipline, one can reduce the risks, without making it too hard to the users. -- Some handy, but dangerous things, such as iPhones, are very problematic. Many such devices are very complex, and the software is what it is, unfortunately, with plenty of known and unknown security holes. Therefore they should be banned from the business network, unless integrity of their software can be made to meet the required standards. -- Others, such at bitTorrent, are just plainly non-business-related applications in most organizations, and should therefore be either forbidden, or at their use least seriously restricted.