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IT pros, workers show a 'disconnect' over mobile devices and policies

Cisco survey points to need for changes in corporate IT policy

November 8, 2010 08:08 AM ET

Computerworld - Two-thirds of workers in a new survey said their companies need to improve their IT policies, while at the same time, 20% of IT professionals said their relationship with employees is "strained and dysfunctional."

Those findings come from a survey commissioned by Cisco of 2,600 workers and IT pros in 13 countries. Insight Express conducted the survey for Cisco in August and September.

The survey clearly indicated there are differences between IT shops and the workers they serve, made more acute by the desire of mostly young workers to use their own personal mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads, for work tasks, Cisco officials said. Some companies restrict the devices workers can use, while others restrict applications, including access to social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.

The report "spotlights the disconnect between IT, employees and policies," Nasrin Rezai, senior director of Cisco Security, said in a statement. "As workforces become more distributed and the consumerization of IT becomes a mainstream fact of life, the importance of updating appropriate policies to accommodate employees' needs, while balancing risk and security, becomes critical."

Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director of marketing for borderless networks at Cisco, said in an interview that IT policies "need to keep up with top market trends" such as the proliferation of smartphones employees want to use for work. "IT can increase employee satisfaction if it keeps up with market trends. If the IT department hears and accommodates employees, they can turn into heroes."

Lasser-Raab said that while 21% of the 1,300 IT leaders in the survey described a "strained and dysfunctional" relationship with workers, a clear majority (52%) described the relationship with workers as "strategic...,based on regular, open communication."

Lasser-Raab said she interprets the responses by IT pros as a "glass half-full" because most report regular and open communication.

Also, it turns out that 76% the 1,300 workers in the survey actually said they respect their IT teams, even if 64% feel their company's IT policies could use some improvement. "The 76% shows IT (professionals) are trusted partners, even though IT people a lot of the time feel unappreciated because people come to them with problems and when IT fixes something, workers forget IT," she said.

She also said she wasn't surprised by the fact that one in five IT pros see their relationship with workers as strained. "You hear a lot of people complain in IT, but the complaining can be short-lived," she said, based on nearly 20 years in networking circles.

Cisco focused the findings on the need to adapt and update IT policies to current trends, arguing that IT shops need to communicate policies clearly and more often to workers -- especially regarding security. Explaining network security to a new employee can be futile since a worker is exposed to so many new ideas, Lasser-Raab said.

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