There is no denying that the role of today’s CIO is increasingly complex and unpredictable. Every day there are new stories about data breaches or data losses, with high profile cases bringing data security into the mainstream news agenda. This is partly thanks to the proliferation and seemingly uncontainable nature of new technology solutions. One example is the use of file sync-and-share (FSS) solutions in an enterprise setting, a cause of many data breaches.
The rapid adoption of FSS solutions for personal use, has lead to FSS becoming standard procedure when accessing, storing and sharing business information in the workplace. Unfortunately, as with most technology built with consumers in mind, FSS solutions fail to provide businesses with the security they need for protecting critical business information. This has opened a Pandora’s box for security and data loss challenges as FSS solutions are rarely managed by, or even visible to, IT departments.
[easy-tweet tweet=”It’s time for CIOs to become enablers of consumer technology, rather than blockers” via=”” hashtags=”cloud “]
In recent years, CIOs have exhausted much of their energy campaigning against the use of consumer technologies in enterprise. They are increasingly unaware of what’s happening with technology in their own organisations and have little control of what is being downloaded or transferred across them. It is necessary for CIOs to change strategy and position themselves as the enablers of these technologies, rather than the blocker. Shadow IT is simply not going away.
So, how can you ensure that data shared through services such as OneDrive, Dropbox and similar solutions remains visible to IT, backed up, and fully searchable for use by end users and for eDiscovery purposes? The following guidelines enable your workplace to support FSS, whilst maintaining control of its data:
Accept Shadow IT behaviour is taking place: Don’t ignore rogue file sharing behaviour. According to a research report by Osterman Research, 68% of business users were storing work-related information in a personally managed FSS solution – without visibility or approval from IT.
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Listen to your colleagues: Learn how and why staff choose to use FSS on the job. If IT can understand why, it can then encourage this continued collaboration platform with the support of additional data governance and security measures such as encryption, backup and eDiscovery. It will also enable IT to better choose which applications to roll out across the company, in order to meet staff requirements.
Promote easy-to-use services: Remember that one of the most important features of FSS services is a user-friendly interface and quick deployment. Look for a tool that combines the functionality, security and scalability required for an enterprise solution with the ease of use of a consumer-class FSS. Solutions which offer a virtual folder that acts as a “personal cloud” mean staff can freely collaborate and share work-related files just as they would via FSS solutions, but without the security risk.
Take responsibility: FSS integration into endpoint data protection solutions needs to be an IT responsibility. By putting in place the correct guidelines and approval processes, the IT team can finally put away the rubber ‘no’ stamp and be the department that colleagues look to for the tools they need and want.
Keep your options open: Users choose FSS to increase productivity, collaborate with colleagues and backup files. As such, be sure you can continue to support a wide range of devices and third-party applications when you implement that extra layer of protection. It’s important not to be limited to a specific platform or ecosystem either, so make sure users still have access to the same features across all devices.
CIOs must now recognise that their staff should guide them
Following these guidelines will reinstitute the IT department as the guardian of consumer technology solutions in the workplace, and therefore IT teams can ensure that they can recover, access and use company information no matter where it resides – while reducing costs and risk. In much the same way as the shop assistant lives by the saying ‘the customer is always right’, CIOs must now recognise that their staff should guide them. By learning from the habits that work outside the enterprise, it is possible for IT to provide a smart complement, and/or alternative, to existing solutions, while still adhering to corporate data management best practices.