It’s impossible not to notice the changing role of enterprise IT. While there continues to be a need for network management and expertise, IT is being called both to do more and to do things differently. How we live and work has fundamentally changed; for IT, these changes amount to a 180-degree turn in how they support and lead their organizations.
First, there is no perimeter to protect anymore. It wasn’t long ago that security was all about protecting the perimeter, limiting Internet access, and restricting mobile devices to an exclusive few. The thinking was that if IT could just guard the network perimeter and limit access, the company and its intellectual assets would be safe.
In just a few short years, this concept has been turned upside down. Today there is the cloud. And nothing is slowing down the growth of the mobile workforce and the use of personal devices, rendering any rigid perimeter protection strategy obsolete.
It's even difficult to discern boundaries today as younger generations are growing up without them. Everything is shared and transparent. Their thoughts, views, actions, friends, achievements, and mishaps are all laid out for the world to see through tweets, Facebook, YouTube, Instagrams, and blogs, just to name a few.
In addition, the availability, low cost, and ease with which today’s employees are accessing and downloading applications and software on their own devices has resulted in IT circumvention. With today’s technology, workers are able to respond immediately, implement solutions faster, and quite simply, just do things themselves. We are a society of instant access, instant gratification, and instant communication. Services such as Salesforce.com and others have made it easy for business units in both big and small companies to implement their own technology solutions outside of IT.
It’s a whole new world when it comes to the relationship between IT and employees. It’s more open, strategic, and consultative. Here are some ideas to help with the transition:
1- Implement policies, not control. If you can't control behavior, instead be the light. IT can guide, instruct, consult, partner, and enable. For example, says Infoworld.com, “Allow any mobile device that conforms to your routine information access policies, but add layers of authentication and security measures such as encryption for those information resources that are truly sensitive within the network. Even if you let an employee access their workgroup share drive from an iPad, it doesn't mean that same employee can open your HR database.”
2 – Share the security and performance risks. Along with the freedom of business groups to use their own technology goes the responsibility of risk and personal accountability. Institute policies that explain and require this and IT will have less worries. Infoworld.com sees this as good news, since “by shifting risk from an IT- or CSO-only job to a shared one, you incentivize the business to reduce that risk through other means.”
3 – Engage a managed services partner. In today’s open, social, and mobile environment, it is unrealistic to expect IT to be everywhere. In fact, says Forrester, the managed services provider market is growing faster than any other segment in the IT industry. Managed services providers are partners that provide an added layer of protection and expertise to an enterprise IT team. With the advances in technology, changes in worker behavior, and high employee and customer expectations, managed solutions provide some relief. IT remains the leader, expert, and consultant across the organization for technology innovation, while having someone help cover their back. Who wouldn’t want that?