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Consumerization Quotes: Drug dealers, Angry Birds and Surface tablets

Mobile games probably won’t bring down your network, but tech-savvy employees might. The IT community explains how in this week’s Boston-baked quotes.

The record-high temperatures might have gotten to the folks attending IT conferences in the Boston area this week, as they cracked jokes about security and compliance, nerdy employees and even drug dealers.

This week’s Consumerization Quotes came from the Enterprise 2.0 and Mobile Connect conferences, as well as TechTarget’s Consumerization of IT seminar. In spite of their humor, they shed some light on some truths about consumerization.

“Angry Birds isn’t going to access the hospital network.”
Brian Duckering, senior manager of enterprise mobility, Symantec

When it comes to security and compliance, IT can have a bear of a time getting mobile devices up to snuff. Focusing on the right aspects can prevent admins from getting bogged down. Duckering’s quip was in reference to iPad use in hospitals and how admins there don’t need to worry so much about building fences around personal devices. The fences IT needs to worry about are those around corporate data.

“Hang on, baby -- that’s called a proxy. Let me set that up for you.”
Brian Madden, independent industry analyst and blogger

As Madden points out, the most complex problems associated with the consumerization of IT don’t come from bring your own device. They come from users who know how to circumvent IT’s restrictions -- and then show co-workers how to. One nerdy employee who overhears a cute coworker complaining that she can’t use AOL Instant Messenger because of the firewall isn't going to pass up the chance to show her all about proxy settings, Madden says. All it takes is one savvy user to infect all your employees with the ability to FUIT.

“Only two industries call their customers ‘users:’ drug dealers and IT.”
Eugene Lee, CEO, Socialtext

On a panel at Enterprise 2.0 this week in Boston, Lee spoke about innovation versus integration and the problems around choosing between legacy apps and cloud apps. His tongue-in-cheek comment sheds light on a real IT issue: Admins should understand that part of their job is legitimate customer service. The focus has shifted from offering employees technology that stinks to fostering a happy (and therefore productive) workplace.

“The tendency of IT is to put Draconian controls on anything we can.”
Art King, global infrastructure lead, Nike

Microsoft announced its Surface tablets this week but kept fairly quiet about most of the devices’ specs, leaving IT pros to wonder how the tablets will fit in the enterprise. If the devices work with current management tools, then admins won’t take issue. But if the tablets are geared towards consumers and employees bring them to work, IT’s knee-jerk reaction could be to lock devices down to the point where they aren’t fun anymore, King says.

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I think the addage about a little knowledge is a dangerous thing is very apt.
I just commented on a similar question about how bandwidth is being usurped by games and BYOD devices. This is still true. I think where it gets really sketchy is when folks are using their own devices on the company network to visit sites that are not expressly denied or prohibited by the company. Dating sites, gambling sites, shopping sites. Anything that actually might provide a back door into systems that should be protected on the network.