Field Notes: 'Rogue' employees want IT to lighten up already

Speakers at CITE Conference urge enterprise IT to give up on 'command and control,' learn to ride the BYOD wave.

field notes

SAN FRANCISCO - IT departments need to lighten up. Big time.

That's the memo to enterprise IT from just about every speaker to take the stage here at IDG Enterprise's CITE Conference & Expo.

It's a message even the most traditional of old-school IT managers should have heard multiple times by now. As BYOD, cloud and social technologies make deeper inroads in the enterprise, IT managers have been chastised for being the "department of no," counseled to "secure, but not roadblock" mobile devices and challenged to "enable rather than enforce" new technologies.

Enterprise IT shops that continue to march to a traditional command-and-control beat are on the road to obsolescence. At least that was the view of multiple panelists at the conference session titled "Let Your Users Go Rogue Without Going off the Range." Their reasoning? Legions of app-happy, cloud-comfortable employees aren't going to stop finding and downloading productivity tools that help them do their jobs faster and better -- bypassing corporate IT along the way.

Computerworld National Correspondent Julia King chats with editor Tracy Mayor about learning to love rogue IT users, a topic at this week's CITE Conference in San Francisco.

Enterprise IT often isn't even aware of the size of its problem. The average enterprise has 461 cloud apps up and running -- which is nine to 10 times more than what IT tends to estimate, said panelist Jamie Barnett, VP of marketing at Netskope, which tracks billions of cloud app events across hundreds of thousands of users.

Just one example: 50% of corporate users use some kind of unapproved file-sharing tool like Box or Dropbox, said panelist Sanjay Castelino, VP of marketing at Spiceworks, a software company that makes cloud-based apps to track and manage IT tasks and projects.

But users don't think of these tools as "unapproved," Castelino said. Instead, they're proud that "they took it upon themselves to be productive."

In their defense, IT managers are concerned because appropriate security and compliance policies haven't yet bloomed in the midst of users' love affair with gadgets, apps, devices and data.

"Security and compliance policies today are from a time when the assumption was that most assets were behind the firewall and were being accessed using a PC," pointed out panelist Todd Krautkremer, VP of marketing at cloud-networking provider Pertino. "But now, people with their own devices are accessing assets in the cloud, and it's a huge disconnect."

Beyond security -- and to be fair, that's a big beyond -- traditional IT needs a mega adjustment in attitude about where good technology ideas can come from. Rather than stifling users in sales, marketing and other business functions from trying, learning, swapping out and otherwise experimenting with cloud apps and other consumer tech, enterprise IT managers should encourage what they now disparagingly call "rogue IT" or "shadow IT."

Panelists argued it's actually shadow innovation, and they urged IT to tap its power. One way to make the bitter pill go down easier: Stop considering it to be rogue and start thinking of it as R&D at an extremely low cost of entry.

Julia King is a Computerworld executive editor and national correspondent. You can contact her at jking@computerworld.com.

This article, Field Notes: 'Rogue' employees want IT to lighten up already, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies