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It's war! BYOD exposes IT's deep distrust of users

Galen Gruman | Sept. 26, 2012
A new Unisys survey reveals that divide between IT and the rest of the company isn't closing, but that users are winning

But this one is: 72 percent of IT executives surveyed say that employees are using unsupported devices or apps because of personal preference, not because they need to do critical work. I'm sorry, but IT doesn't know how to do most jobs in the organization, so what makes IT pros think only they know what tools a salesperson or HR manager or partner relationship manager really needs? Especially when another survey earlier this year showed that IT was more likely to block Angry Birds than to provide secured alternatives to public cloud storage services.

IT really does believe it knows best: 75 percent of IT organizations don't let people use their own apps for work purposes, with a substantial subset saying such usage should be grounds for dismissal. Employees have in large numbers (38 percent) decided to ignore such edicts as, well, stupid. They're trying to get more and better work done, and they're using whatever tools they can to do so, including their own mobile apps, their own software on their PCs, and cloud services. Remember: These people are the ones who drive the business and tend to be in positions of authority, and are thus trusted. Yet many IT organizations would constrain their tool set and fire them for working outside the lines.

When nearly half of information workers are using smartphones and a quarter of information workers are buying their own technology to do (more) work, IT's "just say no" approach is irrelevant.

The underlying problem in IT is twofold. First, many IT pros think users are simply buying devices and software because they've been bamboozled by ads and fads, especially when they choose Apple or Google products. Second, IT views technology through the lens of risk, and because people are unpredictable and variable, many in IT seek to limit people's choices and behaviors. When users choose their own and, worse, bring their own, all these IT pros see is risk, and down come the iron gates.

Both viewpoints are grounded in distrust of the very people who run and essentially are the organization. That attitude can only lose.

Getting past the distrust divide
What IT should be doing is partnering with these users, says Weston Morris, an architecture lead at Unisys's Global Managed Services group. Although he says some of users' claims about self-empowerment are a bit overblown, he notes that they are spending their own money, not asking the company to do so. In other words, they're putting their money where their mouth is, and given that these employees tend to be the most effective in business, their judgment can't be dismissed as naive faddism.


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