IT department described as being 'caught between a rock and a hard place' due to employee demands on technology

A need to understand risk and encourage employees to embrace the challenges around information has been debated.

In a panel discussion ahead of the 360IT conference later this month, the question was asked on how far should user demands dictate IT policy.

Clive Longbottom, service director of business process analysis at Quocirca, claimed that the IT department is 'caught between a rock and a hard place', as these days technologies are attractive and 98 per cent of the organisation is using IT and want things to stay as they are.

He said: “If you lose stuff you get it in the neck, it is causing problems but executives say that employees are not to use devices such as the iPhone and iPad, yet will have six devices that they want to connect. You have to change the way of thinking and be advisor, to say what is possible. It is not about opening up to problems on the outside, it is challenges on the inside; data loss prevention is one of most important things to look at.

“A few years ago it was suggested that we would have devices that would hold 500MB and people fell about laughing, now a smartphone is 32GB. We need to make decisions on policy, and not lockdown.”

David Chan, director of the centre for information leadership at City University in London, said: “It is about situational awareness, as every situation is different. A business has secure information and a problem with IT is that it has got to look at change and the possibilities with technology, people need to be smarter with what they are trying to do.

“Because of the ubiquity of information in every enterprise, you need to decide what to do. There is very little control with social media, and it is not about whether or not to lockdown, it is about situational awareness. Do not give details out without consideration and do not just use a tickbox, it is about having people with knowledge and skills and understanding on what should go out.”

Ian Alderton, European CIO of corporate and investment banking technology at Wachovia Bank, claimed that there is a real risk that technologies could become extinct, as it was historically built around control and there is now a push for commoditisation.

Lee Bryant, founder of Headshift, said: “We need to broaden our attitude to risk; risk management needs to broaden its scope and we need to understand how to broaden our return on investment. There is a whole bunch of things that we can do to improve our situation and understand what we need to lock down and have a sensitive 'looser' approach.

“We need to separate layers and provide APIs so we can operate in the application layer without working in vertical stacks, as that is where explosions in cost and complexity derive from. There is a move towards social technology, as in the 1960s we believed use of IT would free us up but we are moving towards a 19th century attitude of it restricting us, and we need to get back to that way of thinking.”

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