Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Signs a corporation doesn't get it

1. They ban camera phones in the workplace for security reasons. The problem with this policy is that there's really very few phones now without cameras. I would venture that if you did a random poll of cell phone owners in the workplace, you'd find at least 50% of phones had cameras built in - the number is likely higher and climbing by the day. This is a policy that is not only highly inconvenient for staff and visitors, but is difficult to enforce. Then there are the privacy considerations. Imagine walking into a company lobby and being asked to hand over your cell phone because it has a camera. Just like that. Who will have access to this phone? Where and how will it be stored? How will you know who to give my phone back to? Do you see the irony here? "At XYZ Corporation, we value our privacy, we just don't value yours."

2. They filter internet sites. Yes, companies try to achieve a number of goals with web filtering, including better information security, a more productive workforce and the saving of corporate bandwidth. The flaw is in the method used to determine sites that are perceived as being unproductive. What corporations fail to understand is that many sites that are painted with a wide brush as being inappropriate or unproductive are in fact the new tools of the modern age. Yes, there are millions of non-business related videos on online video sites. But there are also countless tutorials, demos, lessons, etc. being hosted on free video hosts like YouTube. Why? Because it saves companies money in hosting costs. I actually heard a story once of an IT department representative saying "If a company is hosting their video on YouTube, they're amateur and we don't want to do business with them.", in response to a request to get YouTube unblocked on a corporate network. I'm not kidding. But it's not just YouTube getting a bad rap. Facebook is the new social network for the tech-savvy and they don't just use it for recapping the weekend's social events. Pose a question on Facebook and your friends will likely either have an answer or point to a resource in minutes.

The point? Those that choose to restrict technology often don't fully understand its value. This is an attitude that is short-sighted and inherently dangerous. But it does have some value. Any restriction placed on technology resources - especially in the workplace - will eventually only result in one thing. A workaround. One way..... or another.

Let me pose a hypothetical to any IT manager out there. Imagine you're employing methods to block internet resources and that this could potentially annoy the users of the network. Now imagine possible scenarios of how these users could work around your restrictions. Now imagine the worst case scenario. This is what is either being investigated by those affected, or is already happening. So much for those restrictions, huh?

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