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August 9, 2017 | By

Managing Unexpected Guests….in Life and IT

We’ve all been there. An unexpected knock at the door and surprise — all of the sudden you are hosting an impromptu get together. It can be stressful.   Is your home clean and in order? Do you have enough food and beverages? Most people are simply not prepared to deal with the sudden appearance of a neighbor, friend or relative. The same is true for IT organizations. An IT environment is a tricky one. It works because there are processes and procedures that are put into place to ensure everyone has the access to the networks, and applications they need and are locked out of the ones they don’t. So when an unexpected guest knocks, it can be a scramble. Is this guest legitimate? Are they able to access the systems they should be and nothing they shouldn’t?

Just like your always prepared friend who can pull off hosting even the most last minute gathering, an IT organization needs to be ready for everything and part of that is having a management framework that can be expanded in almost any direction on demand. Unfortunately, most IT organizations today are working with legacy management tools that are anything but modern. Every time an end users turns up unexpectedly the entire IT household is thrown into chaos – like your other friend who tries to host a dinner party with only beer and ketchup in the fridge.

In an ideal world, the management tools that IT organizations should have at their disposal should enable them to dynamically scale support on demand regardless of location or time of day. That can be hard to achieve using legacy management tools given all the different types of mobile computing platforms that need to be supported and secured.

So let’s look at some of the challenges organizations face:

  • Pleasing Everyone — IT organizations today are required to support devices running any number of variants of Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems. Each version of these operating systems then gets regularly updated. In some organizations that process happens whenever the user decides to upgrade. In other instances, the IT organization is held responsible for when to upgrade as part of either a need to meet compliance requirements or maintain application compatibility. Organizations that have developed custom mobile applications typically need to vet every update to the operating systems on which those applications depend.
  • Keeping the House Clean (and Secure)  — To make matters even more challenging IT organizations don’t always know where those devices have been. End users routinely connect to wireless networks in cafes and hotels to access a variety of consumer cloud services. Even when there’s a virtual private network (VPN) installed to protect corporate applications it’s not uncommon for end users to bypass the VPN when using their mobile devices to access personal files and public email systems such as Gmail. The trouble is that it turns out that public WiFi services are one of the favorite means for distributing malware because cybercriminals know that most end users don’t distinguish between one open wireless connection and another.
  • Observing a “My Door is Always Open” Policy — Businesses of every size are trying to get closer to their customers using mobile computing devices. Sometimes that means arming employees with mobile applications they bring with them when visiting customers. Other times, it means building and deploying a mobile application that gets deployed on the mobile computing device owned by the customer.  Regardless of the path chose it’s clear that mobile computing applications are at the heart of every major digital business initiative.

So how do organizations overcome these obstacles? Having a portal where end users can self-serve is certainly one way. The other is to make sure that it is very clear who in the IT organization has the expertise needed to address a specific issue. Not only will problems get resolved faster, expectations about how long it might take to solve a specific issue will clearly be set based on the availability of the IT expertise required.

The quality of that experience provided by the internal IT organization is going to define the difference between success and failure. Uninvited guests can make things much more complicated, but you’ll still want to be able to serve them the best way you can. Ultimately whether we are talking about business or a last minute dinner party, you want your guests walking away satisfied and happy they came by.

Want to learn more about managing unexpected guests from a security perspective? Check out our recent webinar “How to Kick-Start Your Organization’s Security Program”.

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