When Personal iPods Become Business Tools...

from the ...-IT-execs-freak-out dept

The idea that people are bringing personal technology and gadgets into the workplace isn't new. In fact, we were just talking about how some companies are completely changing their sales strategy to focus on those consumer buyers who will help technology "trickle up" into the organization. However, the pace at which it's happening is increasing and it's clearly freaking out a lot of IT professionals who don't know how to deal with supporting personal technology. Most companies don't have any policy to handle non-supported technology, which often leads to Dilbert-esque situations, where IT turns its head the other way until there's a problem -- and then gets upset with anyone who has non-supported gear. According to the article, some companies are even making everyone drop off all non-work-issued technology at the front door when they get to work. This is something of a backwards approach. If people are bringing these technologies into work (mobile phones, pagers, laptops, even iPods -- which are apparently being used in 29% of companies) there's a reason they're doing so. Rather than denying that those reasons could exist, companies need to look at ways to better handle the fact that this technology is trickling up from the workforce rather than the other way around. Yes, there are some valid security fears, but many of them can be handled from the technology-side with better methods for making sure any device on a network complies with the rules of the network. Still, a big challenge over the next few years is going to be for IT departments to figure out ways to embrace and learn from how individual employees are making use of personal technology in the office.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Steve Mueller, Jan 10th, 2005 @ 1:34pm

    Two Different Things

    According to the article, some companies are even making everyone drop off all non-work-issued technology at the front door when they get to work.
    The article actually covered two separate (albeit slightly related) things. The first was how portable technology could waste IT time as people tried to connect personal (non-approved) devices at work. While that's an important issue, the second issue -- the security implications of allowing people to use those devices at work -- seemed more important.

    Those companies you mentioned were focusing on the second point, not the first. Also, it wasn't just "some companies" that were requiring users to check their devices, but banks, where a more secure policy doesn't seem unreasonable.

    As I run a Pocket PC Web site, I'm a big supporter of portable technology. I would hate for a company to prohibit me from bringing my PDA or cell phone in (whether it had a camera or not).

    However, I can also recognize that there are legitimate security concerns at work, but I support multiple layers of security. For example, most companies could probably prohibit connecting personal devices to the company's systems (unless you have authorization to do so) instead of prohibiting the devices at work completely. Some places -- defense contractors, R&D facilities, financial institutions, etc. -- may have stricter guidelines.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    VonSkippy, Jan 10th, 2005 @ 7:27pm

    Another non-issue fear-mongered by idiots

    If you can't lock down your workstations to block access to Firewire/USB ports(via CMOS or Group Policy), and use workstations without floppy or optical drives where needed, and can't manage your network traffic (MAC address ring a bell???) then you deserve to have your assets pilfered. Once again, another sad effort by Luddits to stop the progression of technology.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Precision Blogger, Jan 11th, 2005 @ 6:44am

    We're repeating history. Deal with it!

    Sigh, It's time to remember what Santana said again.
    We've already had this IT battle twice. IT always loses. They shouldn't waste their breath:
    (1) Personal computers are just toys. Don't bring them into the workplace. Take my Mainframe, please!

    (2) Personal computers in the workplace have to be approved-issue only. Here's the 286PC laundry list you're allowed to have. Nobody needs the power of a 386...
    - The Precision Blogger
    http://precision-blogging.blogspot.com

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Steve Mueller, Jan 11th, 2005 @ 10:19am

    Luddites?

    If you can't lock down your workstations to block access to Firewire/USB ports(via CMOS or Group Policy), and use workstations without floppy or optical drives where needed, and can't manage your network traffic (MAC address ring a bell???) then you deserve to have your assets pilfered.
    You'd be lots of fun on a rape jury. "If you can't manage to dress plainly and look ugly, you deserve to be raped." OK.

    While they certainly have their place, what real need is there for an iPod in most businesses? I know they can hold contacts and be used as a massive portable hard drive, but how many people are really using them like that in a business environment? A PDA is much better for managing contacts and how many people have real business needs for taking 20-60 GB of data with them?

    The policies you're advocating seem more restrictive than banning mobile technology. Locking down workstations so that only IT people can install software or transfer data to other devices isn't much different from IT people prohibiting different hardware from connecting to those boxes.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2005 @ 10:46am

    Re: Luddites?

    Steve,
    Mostly agree with ya: that "tough!" statement to which you replied really doesn't wash in the Real World, and so many hacker-doods forget that they have to adjust their thinking when they move out of their parents' basement.
    As to your 'why' point, though, I'm thinking that a 20-60Gb unit can be muy useful for installing server, if the tech would get there. Yes, I know, we should all be installing via PXE booting now, but as an example, our IT dept can't really figure out why DHCP shouldn't be standardized and delivered from the part of our WAN with the most suits and the least reliable frame links.
    I'm thinking that people will be more apt - since Moz can't get roaming out because there's too much of a backlog on themes to publish - to start keeping their mozilla prefs and profile dir, for instance, on that thing, especially if it can attach and detach easily. Most of the guys in the office to which I'm attached (I telecommute 5000km) also work from home, and all appreciate the Huge Floppy nature of the device in a sneaker-net set-up.

     

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