iPod craze causes IT mayhem


The explosion in the use of gadgets such as iPods, smart phones and handheld computers is increasing pressure on company IT systems and causing headaches for support staff.

Six out of 10 of the 100 IT directors polled in a new survey said that they are seeing an increase in the number of calls to IT service desks because of issues caused by staff using gadgets such as iPods on their company networks.

What's more, with more than a third (36 per cent) of UK Internet users downloading music and 12 per cent downloading movies, it is inevitable that the practice will start to spill over and cause problems at work.

"MP3 players and other gadgets, which encourage people to download music or video files onto a PC or a corporate network, can eat up data storage space and slow down the network, so it's no wonder IT directors are complaining," said Graham Ridgway, CEO of IT service management specialist, Touchpaper, which commissioned the research

Half the IT directors surveyed also said they were worried about home workers letting friends and family tamper with their office laptops, particularly if 'little Johnny' is using mum or dad's laptop for music downloads.

The use of iPods at work, along with viruses and security breaches, users not following guidelines provided by the IT department, their lack of basic IT skills and users trying to fix problems themselves wee the five key issues which IT directors told Touchpaper exacerbate the volume of IT support queries.

While a number of these, such as users not following guidelines provided by the IT department, point the finger of blame at the workers themselves, it is ironic that almost nine out of 10 IT directors feel end users are now more demanding of IT services than they used to be.

Six out of 10, meanwhile, have resigned themselves to the fact that end users will always be dissatisfied when there is an IT problem.

But more serious than simply overloading the help desk, the explosion in the use of increasingly tiny handheld gadgets also poses very real risks to corporate security.

An iIPod can store any form of data – that means sensitive corporate information, not just music. As one corporate security specialist warned earlier this week, "iPods have become devices that let you to take intellectual property out of the office."

Camera phones are another headache, exposing companies to the risk that products or designs could be photographed surreptitiously and leaked to a competitor.

"Our study highlights the increasing pressure on IT service departments today with issues such as viruses, gadgets and people tinkering with their computers adding to the problems," said Graham Ridgway.

"But organisations have got to find ways to better manage and reduce the load on the service management team if they are going to get the most productive use of company IT systems."