4 surprising tech trends we should be thankful for

Some things IT professionals think are problems actually bring significant benefits that we should learn to appreciate.

thanksgiving meal

In the run up to the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s customary to identify some of the things for which we want to offer our gratitude. Typically, that means family, friends, good health, and the like.

That’s always a good idea, but for those of us in the technology industry or who work in IT, there are plenty of other things to be thankful for, from falling storage prices to fancy new tablets and smartphones. That’s a good idea, too, but I want to take this opportunity to give thanks for a few things that we might usually think of as problems, but can actually add significant value to our organizations and our careers. Let’s start with an easy one:

1. BYOD

The trend of employees bringing their own devices to work is often popular with workers who want to use the devices they choose instead of the ones their companies might provide. But many companies and IT folks don’t like BYOD, worrying about lax security as well as increased support costs and hassles.

That may be true, but there’s another, better side to BYOD, even from the IT perspective. Employees who get to use the devices they already know can be more productive, and may need to rely on corporate support less often than workers forced to deal with unfamiliar smartphones, tablets, and laptops. That’s good for IT, right?

Plus, many BYOD programs call for set limits on how much the company will pay, which can help control costs even while letting employees use the latest and greatest devices. Plus, if workers pay at least some of the cost of their devices, they may be more careful about keeping track of them, which saves money and bolsters security.

2. Cloud security

Speaking of security, many IT departments worry about the security of increasingly popular cloud and Software-as-a-Service products. Given the ongoing series of high-profile security breaches, that’s not an unreasonable concern. But the fact of the matter is that most cloud companies maintain far better security practices than their customers do. They take security more seriously and devote more resources to it.

They have to. While individual companies may be able to keep any breaches on the down-low, SasS vendors and cloud companies know that they’ll get publicly dinged for any security issues.

The upshot is that while you may hear about more cloud security problems, unless you’re a giant enterprise with state-of-the-art security practices, your data is almost always safer in the cloud than on your own servers. And that’s likely true of an increasing number of enterprises, too.

3. The push for diversity

Traditional IT leaders sometimes resist the call for a more diverse technology workforce. Several comments around a recent post of mine rejected diversity in favor of just “hiring the best person for the job.” Well, over time, making room for a wider group of IT workers is likely to increase the number of people who can do the job and boost the overall competence level of IT workers. I hope we can all agree that’s something to be thankful for!

4. Shadow IT

Almost all IT folks I know have big problems with the concept of Shadow IT. They absolutely hate the idea of non-IT workers running around choosing and using products and (more often) services not approved by the IT department. Like BYOD, the concerns center around security, support, cost, and trackability.

But if we’re honest, we can admit that many of those Shadow IT solutions work better than the official IT ones—boosting productivity and employee satisfaction. Perhaps more importantly, they raise the bar for official IT products and services, making things better across the board.

See also, 2013's 8 tech developments to be sorta kinda thankful for

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