From the Editor-in-chief

Do you know where your data is?

While our readers have been trying to shed their techie image and be acknowledged as business-focused executives, most still have a love of tech toys — at the personal level, that is. You just have to take a look around at the arsenal of cell-phone/organizers, wireless-enabled notebooks and other cool personal gadgets in use at IT executive gatherings to see it. That’s why each year at this time we get Gerry Blackwell to play with a few and write about his favourites.

But these days, there’s an additional professional reason why you may want to familiarize yourself with some of the personal technology that’s gaining popularity in the general population: individuals are adopting device technology for themselves and bringing it into the enterprise. Personal and home-based technologies are beginning more and more to interact with and affect the enterprise environment.

IT executives must decide whether to put up barriers and unpopular rules, or follow a course of acceptance and manage what follows as best they can. It’s a tough choice, and if history is anything to go by, the users will, in the end, have their way.

Managing and supporting a growing population of portable devices, with complex connection schemes and quirky interfaces is more difficult and costly than supporting tethered desktops. Users who use their notebooks for personal as well as professional purposes are much more likely to make configuration changes and install unauthorized software. Many end-users are forgetful about backing up critical data. And simply keeping track of who has what and where can be a challenge.

But the implications for the organization extend beyond the management of an ever more distributed information environment. Security and legal issues abound, particularly with more stringent privacy legislation coming into effect.

With the storage capacity available today, the innocent act of synching a PDA with a desktop can be fraught with danger. E-mail is becoming a critical item to be carefully managed in case of litigation, and what of the personal/professional contact information stored in address books that is now, potentially, subject to privacy laws.

Another popular accessory, the ubiquitous USB keychain or thumb-drive storage, may represent the most dangerous security threat yet.

So take the opportunity to ‘play’ with the tech gadgets. It’s a good way to stay on top of what the users may be doing to your carefully planned environment.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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