Nipping ‘Stealth IT’ in the Bud
Mobility management has become an unavoidable question for enterprise IT managers. As more and more consumers acquire smartphones and tablets, it’s become more or less assumed that these devices will be used for work purposes and during work hours, in one way or another. But as companies debate their merits of allowing BYOD, it’s becoming clear that they must strike a delicate balance between restriction and permission if they hope to keep employees within view and sensitive data within grasp.
A Newly Tech-Savvy Workforce
Network managers are quickly realizing that BYOD tendencies represent much more than a simple technological progression; these changes are disrupting workplace dynamics and redefining employee roles. The line between the IT department and the rest of the organization has been blurred with the rise of a new breed of tech-savvy workers. In short, decision-making processes have left the IT castle and been democratized among the people.
This phenomenon can have serious implications that go well beyond mobile email access and tablet apps, however. According to GigaOM, this new breed of autonomous mobile employees is establishing an entirely new corporate silo in the form of “stealth IT.” With devices leaving corporate firewalls and personal credit cards covering up paper trails, business managers are left in the dark with potentially sensitive data blowing in the wind. Some examples of this are blatantly wrong (sexting during work hours on your company phone) others are less clear-cut (accessing your company email from a questionably protected network, or transferring company data to ).
The obvious antidote is, of course, IT reasserting itself with a strategic mobility management plan. However, administrators must be careful not to lay down the law too aggressively and instate overly restrictive policies. No one likes to feel controlled — a harsh approach will only drive risky behaviors further underground.
Getting Employees On Your Side
By now, most companies should understand that “Wild West” is not a term of endearment when applied to mobility management plans. Unsupervised employees can wreak havoc on mobile billing strategies and data compliance requirements, and even put company security at risk. Some examples of this are blatantly wrong (sexting during work hours on your company phone) others are less clear-cut (accessing your company email from a questionably protected network). Regardless, there needs to be push back from IT.
The key here lies in open communication between IT teams and their colleagues. Technology decision-makers must take note of what employees truly need to perform their best and explain the rationale behind their own safeguards and restrictions. This open, non-threatening exchange should give IT further insight into how company data is being accessed and shared, allowing them to make more informed decisions regarding restrictions, and security.
Photo from Creative Commons, flickr user Per Olof Forsberg.