Generation Tech: Gifted but a long way from bad
by Paul Kenyon - COO, Avecto - Monday, 19 November 2012.
The user is given the privileges he or she needs and can use applications on demand with the added benefit that admins are given some visibility into which new applications are finding their way on to the ‘required’ list of the workforce. These rights can be revoked when they are no longer needed, which could be as little as minutes later.

This model overcomes the unhelpful cultural barrier that can spring up between those whose job it is to administer software and employees who might be asking for unsanctioned but potentially beneficial applications admins haven’t even heard of.

There’s no simple answer to identifying which applications might be beneficial and which will turn out to be a productivity-sapping chore. It depends on the type of organisation and the specific set of workers. Where might red lines be drawn?

In the blocked group will sit obviously malign applications (i.e. malware) or illegal or inconvenient (e.g. bandwidth-consuming P2P or video), but in truth the overwhelming majority will be tagged rather unhelpfully as ‘grey’, their status unknown.

A good example of this is Skype, deemed appropriate for some users and organisations but not for others required to meet regulatory constraints that an encrypted channel into and out of the organisation clearly infringes. It just depends. With application and privilege management admins will at least have an overview of an application’s popularity inside an organisation the better to make an informed decision.

Opportunity not threat

From the point of view of traditional, centralised IT, BYOD and consumer software are inherently difficult to assimilate. Admins are instinctively wary and with good reason. In conventional IT, the users are the source of most problems starting with the misuse of software. But here’s an intriguing thought; far from being negative and risky, perhaps the way Generation Y adopts new applications could have long-term benefits if a way can be found to accommodate the behaviour.

It’s tempting to see the gulf that has grown up between admins and users in some organisations as a culture clash of two age groups, the LAN Generation (let’s call them ‘Generation X’ because it conveniently references people born in the 1960s) and the younger Generation Y that has been the subject of this feature.

This would be a mistake although it does neatly outline the different attitude of workers who grew up with the PC and Internet in the 1980s and 1990s and for whom the challenge was simple: get things to work. Years on, for Generation Y the challenge is less a technical one than a social one: how to change the way things work.

Age, then, is better seen as a motif for divisions that grow up in all organisations between hierarchies, between those whose job it is to manage and those who carry out its most basic functions and look for as many short cuts as possible.

What the emergence of Generation Tech suggests is that technology has changed in ways that offer huge benefits and the best response is to adapt rather than deny, and to involve workers in choosing and developing applications rather than turning them into slaves to the UAC prompt and login box.

Applications are not the enemy and neither are the people who use (or want to use) them. They are the managers of tomorrow and future of all organisations that want to stick around.

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