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Peter Silva

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This Time, It’s Personal

Nearly 80% of companies reported an increase in the number of employees wanting to bring their own devices into the workplace

Nearly 80% of companies reported an increase in the number of employees wanting to bring their own devices into the workplace in the last 6-12 months according to ‘The Device Dilemma,’ a report by Vanson Bourne and Good Technology. In addition, two thirds of IT Managers have been under more pressure to increase compatibility with people’s personal handsets in the workplace with 82% saying the most requested device is the iPhone.

Personal devices pose a difficult challenge to IT departments and it’s not just iPhones/personal cell phones; mp3/music players, portable video/game consoles, personal laptops and just about anything with an internet connection or USB hookup can pose a risk.  The age of social networks, streaming video, tele-work lifestyle and the basic computing power of mobile devices have made them constant companions in our daily lives since they do more than just make calls.  We have grown personally attached to these mini-computers (even customizing them) and don’t want to carry around 3 different mobile devices.  Employees now want to use their own devices for work related tasks.

Source: The Device DelimmaIt can be a Catch-22; IT might save a little money by not having to procure new corporate hardware but could spend significant time dealing with all the variants and security risks unauthorized personal devices pose.  With all the different types of models, manufactures, operating systems and capacity, configuring and securing each device is not an easy task.  Even if IT is able to apply a policy to individual devices, there still is no real guarantee that each device will support/enforce it.  Management and control of those is a huge concern.  The report also noted, ‘IT Managers don’t want to prevent people from using their own devices, almost half (44%) said they would let people choose if they were assured of security and configuration. Even then, 74% of IT Directors think that employees will still use their own devices even if IT doesn’t support it and more than 25% have experienced a security breach due to an employee using an unauthorized device.

Work Styles have changed also.  Employees are now more dispersed: Different time/different location, Same time/different location, Same time/same location or working alone.  While this model has enabled employees to work from anywhere, the need for collaboration has become critical especially with a global enterprise.  What can you do?  Don’t panic, as indicated in this article by Kim Boatman (hope I Linkedin the correct journalist) called Personal Tech Checklist for the Workplace.  She has a checklist of steps IT can take when dealing with personal tech issues:

Establish or re-evaluate usage policies. Many businesses wrote Internet usage policies a decade or so ago and haven’t revisited them.

Evaluate how you expect employees to use – or not use – social networking. After all, there can be a business benefit to your employees’ presence on Facebook or Twitter.

Inventory employees and equipment. Keep track of the level of access granted to each employee.

Understand the security implications of your policy. For instance, says Storms, allowing employees to install proprietary information on their personal devices is a high-risk proposition, while permitting access to social networking sites at work is less risky.

Educate users. It’s not enough simply to establish plain-language guidelines. If you want employee buy-in, explain why certain actions are limited and what the consequences could be.

Involve IT. It makes good sense to vet policies and practices through the people that keep your systems going.

Give yourself wiggle room. Create that clear usage policy, explain it, and publicize it. But give yourself leeway.

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More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter is an F5 evangelist for security, IoT, mobile and core. His background in theatre brings the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together to cover training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5. He's also produced over 350 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Writer, speaker and Video Host, he's also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others.