Make 2016 the year of “yes”

Like most people, I hate it when I hear the word “no,” especially when I can’t see the reason behind it. In my mind, it instantly conjures up ways to circumvent, side step or re-ask; or, my favorite, “do until stopped.” (After all, it’s unlikely you’ll get fired for a first offence!)

You see, I have the same attitude as the next generation of workers have to IT. This new breed comes preloaded with a lifetime of tech “baggage” and a sense of technology entitlement that old school IT departments hate with a passion.

Traditionally, IT loved to be able to peek and poke into people’s electronic lives and enforce all sorts of weird and wonderful rules around what technology could be used for in a business environment. They would even have their employees sign contracts about the appropriate use of technology, yet simultaneously claim that they were totally on board with a “bring-your-own” mentality. That would be fine, as long as workers didn’t have anything personal on their personal devices!

The reality is that as IT said “no,” users ignored the policies and did anyway. In this tug of war, threats like “unsupported configuration” were thrown around and tactics were used to restrict the use of IT to a defined set of use cases. I’ve even witnessed corporate IT groups putting glue into USB ports to stop data theft (a bit like using glue on the cash slot of an ATM instead of a PIN code).

Now don’t get me wrong: there is absolutely a time and place for IT rules. But, they have to be set in moderation, for a valid reason and implemented properly with the right technology. They shouldn’t be because “we have just always done it this way” or “my boss (a control freak) thinks we should do it this way.”

The next generation of workers are immersed in technology and know exactly what they like and what they don’t like. They also know what tech works best for them, so the only way IT can foster a creative and productive workplace is to blend personal and business tech. This is the “yes” that modern businesses need.

As someone in IT, your biggest mistake would be to interrupt the flow of a tech-savvy worker.

Risk mitigation and security concerns can now easily be managed on personal devices without IT having complete control of said device. It’s a matter of acceptance on the part of the IT organisation, not just lip service.

Another critical factor is how to get users to trust you. Initially, when enterprise mobility management was starting to be adopted, it was all or nothing. Horror stories emerged about employees having personal photos erased when IT accidentally clicked remote wipe. Cautionary tales like this had new workers backing away from BYOD in swarms.

Luckily, mobile management technologies have evolved to a point where we get far better granularity of control both from a user standpoint (what they are allowing IT access to) and from IT’s perspective (maintaining a sandbox of corporate control within the greater “playground” that is the mobile device).

My advice to any corporate IT department wanting to build on a platform of trust with this new generation of workers is simple: non-complicated and modern communication. Dare I say it, some examples of such communication can actually be taken from the product disclosure statements of good insurance products! Simply put, create an easy to read, single-page information sheet that outlines what you as an IT group can and cannot do to a user’s personal device – and don’t complicate it.

For example: We cannot delete your personal photos. We cannot read your personal email. We cannot see the websites you have been visiting on the device’s browser. We will install a corporate workspace on your device that either you or we can delete at any time. We can see what websites you have been to from your corporate browser.

You get the idea. Simple, honest communication with the next generation of workers is key, and will set you on the path to working better with your users when it comes to IT.

Let’s make 2016 the year of “yes,” then, and embrace all that technology has to offer those who want to harness it.

Adam Jaques is senior director of product marketing and evangelist at Pulse Secure

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Kritchanut