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Controlling the Uncontrollable End User

The explosion of cloud services, including SaaS and consumerized business apps that can be easily downloaded on personal devices, has dramatically weakened the IT department’s control over what end users do in their own digital workspaces. The knee-jerk reaction was to try and step in front of these shadow IT activities, but it quickly became clear that developing an adversarial relationship with users was in no one’s best interest. Forward-thinking IT organizations are now taking a different approach: They are implementing platforms designed to allow employees to use the tools they find most effective, while providing security and control to protect the organization and its sensitive data without disrupting the user experience.

Using more SaaS solutions and user-purchased apps makes this approach the best way forward, as the number of these solutions multiplies quickly every year. Line-of-business leaders and employees find being able to use these solutions and simply pay for them on their credit card is quite empowering. And often, these new and innovative apps or services are more useful or modern than what IT can provide. Simply put, IT cannot match the development resources being deployed by literally thousands of software providers to create new apps and services. As a result, IT must focus on managing and securing these third-party solutions.

IT’s change of positioning―becoming an ally of user choice rather than a blocking force―will require new technology platforms to deliver on this promise. Perhaps the most important technology solution is secure digital workspaces that provide platforms that position the organization to give users the experience and options they demand, while aggregating workloads dynamically and providing unified security and management functionality for IT. This ensures that data is protected and users have the options they desire with service levels that meet their requirements. Such functionality is essential as the number of new applications, SaaS solutions and unsanctioned data sources continues to increase. A good example of this is the large number of current and undocumented Google Docs instances that presently exist and are outside any corporate control.

Deploying best-in-class digital workspace technology will let users get the consumer-like experience they want and the range of choices they need to perform their work. IT must get in front of the wave to ensure security and effective management. Without this IT-provided capability, employees and users will continue to buy or subscribe to their own “work-around” products and services that exacerbate the problem. Modern digital workspace solutions also provide a substantial level of self-service capability for users. This puts them in control of their needs, within limits but without the problem of uncontrolled and unmanaged apps and services that have not been secured. Self-service also makes life easier for the IT team by reducing the burden of treating every new app or service as a new solution that must be deployed with assistance from IT. Using a standard digital workspace platform that automates the process of securing, managing and integrating new apps and services, as appropriate, is a huge time-saver for overburdened IT staff.

The new reality is that there really is a reasonable way to “control the uncontrollable.” IT teams must focus on the components of the solution stack where they can effectively manage and secure users and sensitive information. The old model of standing in front of the tide of new apps and services and commanding it to stop is not feasible. IT is much better served by taking a supportive position and helping users leverage the tools they want. IT must utilize its resources where real influence can be had and the key tasks of management and protection can effectively be implemented.

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