Not too long ago most workplace technology was special – provided by your employers and not available in mainstream retail channels. Laptops had different model numbers and power adapters. Cell phones were purchased in bulk from carriers with limited options. Corporate networks were wired and completely closed off from third-party devices. Business-oriented technology was often kludgy with a poor user experience. Employees didn’t have any choice but to use the employer-provided gear.
Raise your hand if you have seen a company using a green screen terminal or command prompt in the past year.
Somewhere between the iPod revolution and the wi-fi explosion, there was a gradual shift in our usage patterns and preferences. Salesforce.com’s strategy in the early days was to avoid IT altogether with cloud-deployment, credit card billing and a WYSIWYG administration panel. Now sales executives could deploy CRM without calling IT, and increase their productivity quickly by following the old adage of “do it now, ask questions later.”
Other rebels kept flash drives on their keyrings to make it easier to sync and transfer documents between work and home. Once storage needs outpaced the capacity of flash drives and online storage became cheap, other rebels started using cloud-based storage. Other employees transitioned to sturdy, lightweight MacBooks to save travel weight and virus headaches.
Not only did rogue employees start to BYOD (bring your own devices) with or without IT’s permission and consent, organizations started to give their employees more choice to improve productivity and happiness. And IT was tasked with supporting the rogue apps and devices. Employees were acting more like consumers, and IT was left to figure out support access, interoperability and integration for these unofficial devices.
Nowadays, many companies have tried to avoid this issue altogether by offering their employees choice up front. In many companies new employees are asked Mac or PC before they go on the office tour.
IT’s role changed from being a technology dictator to a collaborator, working with colleagues on requirements gathering to incorporate hard requirements like interoperability, integration and security with soft requirements like user experience, design and personal preference.
This same shift is happening with mobile security.
Employees are using their own personal phones and tablets for work applications, from checking email to sharing documents or accessing company information. Many use multiple devices throughout the day, but these personal devices haven’t been secured as well as those company provided ones.
The increase in employee mobility means that modern workers need modern tools to stay productive, but with workers supplying more of those tools themselves, IT’s role has changed.
It’s not as simple as providing desktops, landline phones and printers anymore. Because of the consumerization of IT, what modern workers need from IT has changed from desktops and laptops to security and network capabilities that can help them be productive on a wide range of mobile devices.
Your company’s security policy should reflect what is happening in your organization, and maximize employee productivity. The best security policy is the one you can implement and your users’ will follow.