Purchasing Power: Does Control of the Purse Buy Security?

Disruptive IT Trends2 minutes readAug 1st, 2011

As noted in our recent post, IT executives and iWorkers give remarkably different answers about the extent of smart mobile device usage within the enterprise.

A variety of factors might contribute to that particular crevice in the “Consumerization Gap,” but here’s one we think is a prime reason: outmoded governance policies, particularly in equipment purchasing.

The vast majority of the IT decision makers we surveyed in our 2011 study — 87 percent, in fact — say that they follow the “tried and true” model of purchasing a standard set of mobile devices for employees and paying usage charges.

However, more than half of iWorkers say they have purchased their own consumer devices without any employer reimbursement and are using them for work.

Clearly, IT is earnestly trying to enforce policies that workers are ignoring in droves so they can obtain the tools they believe enable them to be most productive. Management is falling short in recognizing the extent of real consumerization and creating policies to help the business capitalize on the trend’s potential.

This myopia seems to extend to collateral policy areas as well — especially security. Eighty-three percent of IT respondents see security concerns as the greatest barrier to enabling employees to use their own devices for work.

Yet this year’s research shows that those decision makers haven’t established cohesive security policies for use of consumer technology. In fact, they’ve regressed since last year in many key areas.

That lack of coherent security policies might be partly due to IT’s underestimating the extent to which employees are already flooding the workplace with self-purchased devices. You can’t secure and manage what you don’t know about.

We’ll discuss what IT is — and isn’t — doing to address security concerns and challenges in an upcoming post. But one thing is clear: The perceived threat is likely snowballing as more unaccounted-for devices enter the workplace while IT focuses on executing outmoded policies designed to subsidize and control consumer technology. Ultimately, that’s not a winning or even a cost-efficient strategy.

As always, we welcome your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.