The IT spring?!

On 27 August 2011 I tweeted the following messages:

  • ILTA 2011 further illustrates the rapid adoption of the iPad as a legal tool. I have been using it since its launch & can only recommend it.
  • However, law firms need to do a lot more to encourage use of new technology. While security is important, outdated policies can stifle use.
  • Finding the right balance between security, trust & privacy is imperative dealing with devices as ‘personal’ as an iPad in the work context.
  • Many organisations have social media & mobile access/security policies aimed at the lowest common ‘technologically illiterate’ denominator.
  • Unfortunately, such policies infantilise & alienate the real smart cookies of an organisation, leading to reduced productivity & innovation.

You can only imagine my delight then when I read the article titled ‘IT’s Arab spring‘ in The Economist, dated 8 October 2011.

The article highlights the quiet IT revolution that’s taking hold in the work place, where a new generation of workers are confronted and disenchanted by existing archaic IT/security structures and policies.

In fact, according to a recent survey, ‘IT departments often greatly underestimate how much employees are using their own technology, including social networks and other web services, for work. And it accused internal tech teams of frequently using security concerns as a “fig-leaf” to justify keeping tight control of decisions about which devices workers may and may not use’.

The article goes on to say that ‘[n]ow, however, IT teams are facing a challenge to their authority. Much of what workers are demanding, including the right to use their own smartphones and tablets for work, to mix business and personal data on them, and to personalise them with their own apps, is anathema to IT departments used to running digital dictatorships’.

This is, quite literally, music to my ears …

The article does acknowledge that there are reasonable security concerns about this new direction and this issue was also considered recently by two partners of the law firm Allens Arthur Robinson in ‘Mobile computing – risky for business?‘ (Boardroom Radio, 29 August 2011).

While I understand these security concerns and accept that they are valid issues for consideration, I continue to be firmly of the view that the age of ‘one size fits all’ corporate technology and security solutions is over. Employers will need to accept the new realities of a largely mobile and technologically savvy workforce. And, consequently, those new realities will force them to revisit their technology and security policies and to transition towards policies that cater to the capabilities of the individual employees rather than one that creates a virtual prison for their productivity and creativity.

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