I was going to start off describing how the workplace is changing, how work is no longer confined to an office or an IT-provisioned desktop affixed to a desk. But the fact is that’s never been my reality. The last time I was confined to a desktop, I was in elementary school and my “work” consisted of book reports and essays on historical figures. Even then, though, floppy disks and email allowed me to transport my work between home, school, and the library.

I’m one of those Millennials people love to complain about. In a way, I’ve grown up with technology. I had a computer as a kid, got my first cell phone in my teens, a smartphone just in time for college, and a tablet when I was in college. For my first internship, I opted to use my own laptop, and every Friday I would head to San Francisco — laptop in my backpack — ready to work. At the end of the day, I would pack my laptop and head home. There, I would continue to use my laptop for both work and school assignments. The only thing separating my personal files from my work files were folders.

When I started working full-time, our company had just been acquired by a NY-based company, complete with an IT department. They set me up with the corporate laptop of my choice and asked our team to stop using Dropbox; instead, they had an FTP site to maintain compliance. The FTP site worked well on laptops in the NY office; however, anywhere outside of the office, the latency made it almost impossible to work. It would take ages to open a file, and that was something I wasn’t used to. My mobile experience led me to expect instant access to apps, files, and internet. Following company protocol felt counterproductive, so within days, our office went rogue. We collectively refused to use the FTP site and went back to storing files in Dropbox.

Our IT team was frustrated, but we were happy. I had access to the apps and files I needed to get my work done. If I was out of the office, I could send files from my phone to my coworkers or clients. When I was on vacation, I was at ease knowing that I could easily be reached if there was a work emergency, and I could, pretty much, accomplish any task on my phone or tablet.

I was also an IT admin’s worst nightmare. For convenience, I didn’t use pass codes on my mobile devices or laptop. IT had no way of managing my devices, files or email. What would have happened had I lost my cellphone? I did lose my cellphone and, along with it, access to all of my work emails, contacts, and files. What were to happen if I left the company? Well, I did leave, and I still had access to all of my files. IT had no way to remotely wipe the corporate data.

Because most of my experience with technology had been for personal use, I didn’t think of the larger implications. Had someone gotten hold of my Frederick Douglass essay or my analysis of A Raisin in the Sun — while riveting reads — it wouldn’t have been much cause for alarm. But when employees have access to internal sites, customer information, and no barrier between potentially malicious apps, security threats are a BIG DEAL. IT has to manage how employees access, share, and store corporate information to protect sensitive data, but they also have to understand how employees work.

The workplace is made up mostly of:

  1. GenX-ers who traded in their pagers for mobile devices
  2. Millennials who have been using technology for most of their lives
  3. GenZ-ers who were born with phones/tablets attached to their hands. (I exaggerate, but am I wrong?)

Our personal consumption of mobile devices, apps, and data has set an expectation for how we want to work: seamless workflows and instant access. For employee adoption of mobility solutions, IT needs to address not only security, but also experience. Otherwise, employees will run wild and put companies at risk of data loss.

Citrix XenMobile helps bridge the gap between security and experience. Our UEM solution provides IT with a single console to manage personal and corporate devices without negatively affecting user experience. With support for platform and Intune MAM, single sign on capabilities, secure productivity apps and ShareFile integration, employees get the experience they have come to expect from their mobile devices. Meanwhile, IT gets peace of mind that they can manage their corporate data.

To understand critical mobility requirements with respect to security, and how XenMobile delivers comprehensive, end-to-end mobile protection, read: XenMobile Security Overview.

Will you be at RSA? Visit us in the South Expo Hall, booth #1515.