Consumerization of IT Shines Light on Enterprise IT Failures

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Mobile Device Usage Soars With or Without Permission

Having a policy in place that most people blatantly disregard makes little to no sense. When such situations arise, it is generally indicative of an organization trying vainly to stem the tide rather than adapt to the inevitable trend.

A recent survey of 634 IT people conducted by Proofpoint, a provider of governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) tools, finds that 84 percent said they are embracing consumer-class technologies in one form or another. But perhaps what's even more interesting is that among the 16 percent who said their companies had policies in place that prohibit these types of technologies in the workplace, 64 percent of them suspect that employees are already using these technologies.

Those results, says Andres Kohn, Proofpoint vice president of technology and product management, show that a general trend towards consumerization of IT is not something that is about to happen, but rather something that has already taken place.

Like it or not, people are routinely forwarding emails and other files to their personal email accounts so they can more easily access them from their own personal devices either at home or on the road. Security experts can rail about all the potential threats that are inherent in this behavior all they want, but it's not going to make an ounce of difference.

What IT organizations need to start concentrating on is deploying enterprise-class versions of these technologies and associated security solutions that give users all the productivity benefits of consumer-class technologies without introducing all the associated risks. That may seem like a tall order, but it's only a matter of time before some serious breach involving consumer-class technologies happens. Once that does occur, the initial blame will surely be placed on the user who violated the policy.

But not too long after that, the focus will quickly shift to the people who created the rigid IT infrastructure that so many workers feel compelled to work around regardless of attendant risks. And once that conversation starts to happen, it's not too long before the company starts looking for new IT leadership that "doesn't want to get in the way of the business," which is otherwise known as giving the employees what they wanted in the first place.