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Who's More Tech Savvy? Employees Or Employers?

from the depends-on-which-technology dept

I came across two separate stories today at about the same time, which seemed to be saying very different things, but seem worth discussing together. The first is about how big companies are increasingly technology savvy in spying on workers in everything that they do (sent in by reader gonzogirl). It notes that while CIOs used to worry about how employees would react to being spied on, these days it's barely a second thought, as it's become almost standard. The other study involves some research suggesting that employees are becoming a lot more tech savvy than their employers and trying to drag them into the 21st century. The researchers behind that report say that employees understand technology much better than their own CIOs.

At first glance, the two reports may seem to contradict each other, but that may not really be the case. It may actually show a lot more about where the priorities are for CIOs of large companies these days: fearful of what employees are doing, rather than looking for ways to help them get things done. Thus, when employees show up with new tools to make them more productive, the response isn't too embrace them, but to fear them (or figure out how they can be monitored). This wouldn't be particularly surprising, but it should be troublesome for those large companies, who are breeding atmospheres of distrust and trying to hold back the innovation needed to boost productivity and compete with more nimble companies.


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  1.  
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    Kendall, Jan 10th, 2008 @ 4:31pm

    Employees > Employers

    I can understand it... kind of. Employers do become more involved in business affairs and higher level work, (although programming is as high a level as you can get) so it seems understandable why they lose connection with new technology and become more attached to the old. I'm on the employee side. Whenever something new comes out, I jump straight to it. I guess to counteract that, they try and keep them grounded with the old technology so that they won't lose connection. But, I still think that employers should take the initiative to learn the new stuff.

     

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  2.  
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    Overcast, Jan 10th, 2008 @ 4:53pm

    To safeguard its employees and operations Wal-Mart has tapped its massive data warehouse of information, now believed to be larger than 4 petabytes (4,000 terabytes), to look for potential threats. It tracks customers who buy propane tanks, for example, or anyone who has fraudulently cashed a check, or anyone making bulk purchases of pre-paid cell phones, which could be tied to criminal activities. "If you try to buy more than three cell phones at one time, it will be tracked," he reportedly told the audience.

    It's one thing to nose into your employee's business - it's quite another to go monitoring customers.

    I'm - again - glad I stopped shopping there a while ago.

    As for monitoring - these Big Wigs need to realize - the IT staff in charge of it, can monitor them just as well as the clerk at the very bottom of the corporate ladder.

    One place I worked for - the only employee who surfed porn, was... well the company's CEO, lol

     

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  3.  
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    Overcast, Jan 10th, 2008 @ 4:56pm

    ...and oh... it was lots of S&M porn, he was having an affair on his wife, picking up prostitutes online...

    I suppose - if I was a different type of person, I could have made some very serious waves - both at work and at home for him. I didn't, but be careful what tools you give to what people.

    And best of all - with the corporate IT policy - I was perfectly within my rights to do that. There were no exclusions listed in the IT policy. Funny thing was the look on the office manager's face when I mentioned it, lol.

     

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  4.  
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    ehrichweiss, Jan 10th, 2008 @ 5:36pm

    Aaah...the joys of being the one person in the company that makes the CEO seem savvy. Seriously, those guys don't know crap 99.999% of the time and what knowledge they do manage to hold comes from us sysadmins, the ones they really need to pay better since we also hold all of their darkest secrets.

    I worked for a(once) Fortune 500 company that had me cover up the CEO's mistakes multiple times. Once she was bitching and kevetching(sp) about one of the employees and the dumb ****(that IS a 'C' word) sent it with a CC to the employee. Guess who got to call a building wide "virus scare" so I could take control of the employee's workstation and delete the message without his knowledge that it even existed. She didn't trust any of the sales staff and spied on them constantly and then she wondered why they left; they seriously had a higher turnover rate than a burger flipper at DickMe's.

     

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  5.  
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    shadeymurph, Jan 10th, 2008 @ 6:01pm

    We've All Got to Pay the Price

    Unfortunately, we all have to adjust to the lowest common denominator. In this case, that miniscule value is the rebel user who can cause disproportionate destruction. Productivity-enhancing tools in the wrong hands can wreak havoc on even a well-designed network.

    Yes, it's possible to balance security and stability with users' needs. Yes, it's important to consider employee productivity in any technology plan. But the knuckleheads always ruin it for the rest of us. CIOs focused more on monitoring than on enhancing productivity may actually be guarding existing levels of productivity from the threat of tools and permissions being used in the wrong way.

     

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  6.  
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    HP, Jan 10th, 2008 @ 6:13pm

    Web Bugs

    I'm in yer email trackin yer reading

     

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  7.  
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    lmr2020, Jan 10th, 2008 @ 7:13pm

    So right!

    "fearful of what employees are doing, rather than looking for ways to help them get things done" This is exactly what I have encountered at my job. Maybe I'm being naive (of course I'm being naive), but doesn't it make sense that a well-trained employee working on good, modern equipment using up-to-date software will increase productivity, and thus, make your company more successful? In a perfect world, that would make sense. At my job, even upgrades to our dinosaur programs are whispered by the admins for fear that the 'inmates' might rally and actually feel like we are living in the age of enlightenment. It boggles the mind, but there it is. I guess I'm just grateful to know that I and my fellow cave dwellers are not alone.

     

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  8.  
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    Overcast, Jan 10th, 2008 @ 7:22pm

    Yeah, good point on that too...

    We have good ol' SMS - and I swear there's nothing that can slow down a workstation that bad - except maybe running some high end games.

    I think my laptop booted in 1.5 minutes before SMS and all the other crap got pushed to it. Now, I can start the laptop up - go get coffee. By the time I get the coffee and get back it *might* be at the login prompt. I can usually login - and then drink most of the cup of coffee and be getting another one by the time it gets to the desktop.

    I think I burn more time waiting on this and that due to all this 'crapware' running that supposed to 'protect the network' than I would ever waste on the web. And actually - most of the time I am web surfing, I'm waiting.... on something, lol.

    I refuse to install most of the 'big name' AV suites on my PC - heck, I've had viruses that didn't hamper system performance as bad as the 'big name' Security suites.

    Simple is better - I run AVG, SpyBot and No-Script on Firefox. Unless I tell it to - no scripts will run from any web page. AVG scans nightly. I'm cautious about emails I open and don't download a bunch of garbage from the web.

    Don't think I've had a virus in 3 years on my home PC.

     

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  9.  
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    Ferin, Jan 11th, 2008 @ 5:19am

    It's not the employer's being unsavvy, it's the st

    One of the big problems we had at the hospital I was at was mroe related to employees simply being idiots, and IT responding by screwing over everybody.

    Case in point, when streaming audio came out so many years ago, a few morons at the hospital i used to work at ate up all the bandwidth streaming fifty or so channels at once. So IT shut down all the streams. The problem as I see it is IT tends to respond by punisihing everybody, when the tools exist to only punish the people who were stupid. This frustrates the tech savvy employees, who just want to have some functionality.

    On the other hand, IT people can be just as hard on networks. My aunt, who's a manager at a largeish telecom, is probably gonna have to fire some of her IT people. Apparently they served out 97% of her company's internal server capacity over the holidays to their friends to play WOW on. (They host some of the WOW servers, and these people were basically using internal servers as a direct line to the wow servers for ultra fast access, or something.)

     

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  10.  
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    fuse5k, Jan 11th, 2008 @ 5:34am

    I work in finance, the systems we use are either
    A) homebrew systems that are barely fit for purpose
    B) at least 15 years old (no kidding we are still using an AS400 system)

    however the company have sophisticated systems for scanning emails, and a full time employee to deal with the system and physically go through the emails that are pulled up.

    at least one person has been fired for selling secrets to competitors...

    i reckon that companies have a certain IT budget, and spend it on keeping employees in line first, and there is nothing left to do anything with their shitty systems...

     

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  11.  
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    DB, Jan 11th, 2008 @ 5:52am

    "In this case, that miniscule value is the rebel user who can cause disproportionate destruction. Productivity-enhancing tools in the wrong hands can wreak havoc on even a well-designed network."

    And unfortunately that hits the nail right on the head. Most ocmpanies cannot (dare not) risk the exposure that can be caused by that careless minority. The stories that hit the news are not about the many users who are responsible, it's the one who sells a Blackberry full of customer information on eBay. :-/

     

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