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iPad driving adoption of consumer tech in enterprises

CIOs are warned ‘not to fight against the tide’, but rather embrace the benefits while strengthening their existing IT security infrastructure

iPad driving adoption of consumer tech in enterprises
Devices like the Apple iPad are changing the make up of IT departments

The rising tide of consumer technology in the enterprise workplace is one that cannot, and should not be stopped, according to the results of a comprehensive study carried out by security vendor RSA.

It found that 76% of CIOs and IT directors believe user-influence in IT purchasing decisions is on the rise. According to the 400 executives questioned, core IT infrastructure decisions remain the domain of the CIO, but almost everything else from smartphones, through to even desktop computers, is up for discussion.

According to the survey, more than 60% of companies questioned reported that users have some input in smartphone purchasing decisions, with 20% even allowing their employees to choose their own smartphone. 52% allow users to provide input on, or make decisions about, netbooks, while half of companies involve users in tablet decisions. In addition, 47% of companies allow users to have an input in purchasing decisions when it comes to laptops and 35% when it comes to desktops.

It also found that a quarter of companies allow their employees to use their own personal computer or mobile phone for work purposes.

60% of CIOs admitted that despite having policies against, or limiting, the connection of personal devices to the corporate network, unauthorised connections still occur, while a quarter of the largest firms surveyed said that they had experienced a major security breach or incident because of personal equipment connecting to the network.

However, despite the risks, independent experts have advised strongly against attempting to roll back any access, and to instead, embrace it, while dealing with the security issues that will arise from increasing numbers of personal devices connecting to the corporate network.

"The trend towards leveraging non-corporate-controlled assets and using social media for accessing and distributing information is inevitable," claimed David Kent, vice president of Global Risk and Business Resources for Genzyme. "It would be a mistake for any company to put its head in the sand, or to dig in its heels; because the tide will be working against you. It would be much better to recognise it and create the parameters to make it work for you."

RSA said that the change was the perfect opportunity for IT security bosses to increase their role within enterprises and act as the advocates of change, rather than fighting against it. "Like it or not, personal and professional computing have collided and the fall out is being felt in enterprises worldwide," said Tom Heiser, chief operating officer at RSA.

"User-drive IT has the potential to deliver huge benefits to users and their organisations. The companies that figure out how to unleash user know-how and consumer technologies, while managing the risks will win this high stakes game. This is the moment for security teams to step up and be the most valuable players."

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