How Personal Is the Personal Computer?

By Lee Pender, CIO |  Software

Mention new technologies by name when updating policies. Hafets says continual monitoring of technologies combined with a corresponding evolution of policy is a good idea. CIOs should both search for the next big thing and be ready to address it specifically in revised corporate policies. That approach not only sets specific limits for employees, it also helps avoid legal problems when dealing with new applications, whether a company is banning them or simply restricting them to proper, legal use. "Companies are going to need to review and update their policies as technology continues to change," he says. "As long as your policies are broad enough to cover all forms of communication, you'll probably be OK."

Communicate. This simple concept that no one has quite mastered is the key to keeping employees happy while maintaining an appropriate level of control over their ability to use applications for personal purposes. Chavez says he made his employees active participants in every step of the process that eventually led to the Napster ban. Similarly, Nagaraja Srivatsan, vice president of the Digital Vision Labs at integrator SeraNova, in Edison, N.J., says reminding employees of the ramifications of improper use of technology -- from legal problems that could sink stock options to total system failures -- is an effective way of making employees feel that they are vital to the company's overall success, even if they have to make sacrifices.

At Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich., which has 110,000 users on its network, Rajan Nagarajan, director for enterprise process and IT integration, also stresses the importance of consistent and open communication. Ford conducts training sessions for all employees that cover the company's personal-use policy and frequently disseminates information about the company's mission and how it relates to each employee. "We fundamentally believe that if you expose everybody to the same information, they'll all come to the same understanding," he says. "People are conscious of how this is related to the company. We want them to feel as part of the company, you're part of the bottom line, and that's the message."

Kirsch says, however, that CIOs should not hesitate to remind problem employees that they are working on company time -- and technology. "I take this general principle: If we bought it, we own it; we control it," he says. "If you're using our equipment to do something, we control it."

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