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When It Comes To Mobility, IT Departments Require Good Parenting Skills

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  • “Chérie, si tu manges un morceau de plus, tu peux avoir des fruits.”
  • “Mon Coeur, il ne faut pas faire ça…tu risques de te faire très mal.”

These are two of the most common things I say these days.  Loosely, they translate to:

  • “Sweetheart, if you eat one more bite, then you can have some fruit;” and
  • “My love, you shouldn’t do that because you could hurt yourself badly.”

In case it’s not obvious, I’m talking to my 2 year old – either when I’m trying to get her to finish her dinner, or when she’s running around the house and trying to do something that could potentially be unsafe. Would you believe it if I told you that this made me think about how IT departments should look at their relationship with employees as it pertains to their mobility strategy?

Now before you infer that I think IT departments need to treat employees like two year olds, let me assure you that that is by no means the case or my intent.

In stead, consider what the two statements are conceptually.  The first statement is a classic carrot stick metaphor.  If you do something I want, you get something you want.  The second statement is an educational warning. It’s an explanation – a teaching opportunity – to warn someone that what they want to do could be potentially detrimental to their well being.  See where I’m going with this?

IT departments are known for being the “bad cops” – the disciplinarians.  They’re always telling the lines of business that they can’t do this or can’t do that.  Rarely are any explanations given as to the rationale of the edict.  In the mobile era, when the lines of business hear that they can’t do something, they’ll often find their own budget and do it anyway.  Industry jargon calls it “Shadow IT.”

I can’t find any rational justification of Shadow IT.  It’s not scalable and it’s potentially duplicative and risky.  With Shadow IT, lines of business are not leveraging processes and tools that IT may have been investing in.  That means that you’re potentially reinventing the wheel (where another line of business may have already invested in something similar).  You also may be doing things that could put corporate information at risk. With Shadow IT, you literally don’t know what you don’t know…and that’s fundamentally a bad practice.

Consider also the recent story on CNN where “Hackers have stolen more than 225,000 Apple accounts from iPhone customers.” Hackers were able to get access to all of these people’s iTunes account information, including purchases, usernames, passwords and more. It turns out all these iOS users had jailbroken their phones.

These two scenarios are easily preventable if IT took a more (loving and) parental approach with employees.

Firstly, IT should say to lines of business “If you want to build mobile apps (the fruit), then please use the tools and methods we have approved and purchased (one more bite).” This removes Shadow IT and creates a more collaborative environment between IT and LoBs – this is vital to successful mobility and digital initiatives.

Second, IT shouldn’t just ban jailbroken or rooted devices, but rather explain to users what the risks are not only to the organization but also to the individuals themselves.  Teach them what the best practices are so that they can enjoy their mobile devices and apps safely and be more productive in a secure fashion.

This is all core to having the right mobility strategy.  The strategy creates the framework, the architecture, the processes and also the guardrails for creating a successful mobile program in the workplace.  A successful mobility strategy does not by any stretch of the imagination mean you should treat your employees like children, but it does in my opinion require good parenting skills.

This post is written by Philippe Winthrop

Philippe Winthrop is CSC’s Global Mobility Evangelist. In that capacity, Philippe evangelizes to clients and industry influencers industry best practices and CSC’s mobility services and vision.
Philippe is recognized as one of the first true enterprise mobility thought leaders. He has spent the past 9 years working with the some of the largest companies in the world to formulate and execute mobile strategies that have transformed the way people work when they are in and out of the office. He has helped vendors generate millions of dollars in incremental revenue through successful B2B and B2C mobile platforms and has saved end-users millions of dollars by streamlining how untethered workers interact with corporate data.   He is a frequent speaker at industry events and quoted in numerous publications on enterprise mobility.
Philippe received his BA in Economics and Romance Languages from Boston College and his MA in International Economics and Finance from Brandeis University.

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