User experience and productivity
What does your company expect of its employees when it comes to their use of IT? If it is like many others, it increasingly expects them to be able to self-provision, to migrate between platforms and devices and even self-regulate within the IT environment.
Add in security awareness and the ability to spot phishing attacks, CEO scams and social engineering efforts, and it is clear that more is expected of the average tech-savvy employee than ever before.
Underlying all this is growing pressure on application makers and service providers to cater to end users rather than IT departments, to help staff meet their productivity needs and to make the need for active intervention as minimal as possible.
“We’ve seen a lot of this in recent months, and it’s showing no sign of slowing as a trend. It all goes back to the consumerisation of IT,” said Francis O’Haire, director for technology and strategy with Data Solutions.
“You can applaud or blame Apple depending on your point of view for coming out with a user interface that is so easy to use. iOS is actually enjoyable to use and I think that’s what kicked this off. Google with Android has followed and Microsoft has followed and the end result is that people are used to, and expect to work with easy and enjoyable to use interfaces.”
The argument is simple: when the average person is used to being able to provision the technology in their pocket easily and intuitively, it is natural that they will expect the same in the corporate world. So when they go to work and are handed technology with user interfaces that are sometimes up to 10 years old, it is not surprising that they turn to alternatives.
“Unfortunately, they will fall back on what is easy to use and they will find non-sanctioned consumer alternatives to get their job done and that’s the trouble. So what IT has to do is embrace their willingness to use technology because in the past it was often hard to get people to use it at all,” said O’Haire.
“Now they’re very willing to use technology but they want to use something that’s as easy and enjoyable to work with as the devices they use in their private lives. So that’s what IT has to do — give them what they want but also make sure that it ticks the boxes in terms of compliance and security and manageability from an IT perspective.”
“If you don’t make it easier for them to work with you, they will go and find easier to use tools themselves. They’re not trying to be malicious in any way by doing this, they just are trying to get their job done as efficiently as possible,” said O’Haire.
The Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was recently heavily criticised for using a private e-mail account for official correspondence but this is something that IT security experts say is relatively common behaviour. O’Sullivan said she occasionally used a Gmail account for official business because of limitations on the file size of the Garda e-mail system. Like many people, she did it because it was convenient and this is the reason that most such activity happens in Irish companies. The challenge for the IT department is providing the right tools for the job so that employees do not need to engage in potentially risky behaviour.
“Many publicly accessible and free services work exceptionally well but don’t include enterprise-grade security protection or take into account the legal and regulatory restrictions companies are obliged to work with,” said O’Haire.