Cloud solutions such as applications and services that can be reached from any internet-connected computer have revolutionized the business world, simultaneously boosting productivity and slashing costs, yet these new technologies are not without their challenges, particularly when it comes to educating employees as to their proper use. A recent experience of the government of Canada's Northwest Territories provides a case in point that applies equally well to small and medium-sized businesses in the United States.
In the Canadian case, employees had been invited to test out Box, an online service that provides file sharing and cloud storage. The employees in question signed up with their business email addresses and used the Box service during a pilot period. When the pilot ended, however, a licensing problem developed because the workers continued to use the service even though they were no longer technically permitted to do so. In this particular case, Box noticed the issue, notified the government of the violations, and worked in cooperation with the government to resolve the situation amicably.
That may not always be the case, however, when workers conflict with licensing restrictions for cloud services. In some cases, businesses may find themselves on the hook for large penalties and fees if their workers continue to use IT services online even after the relevant licenses have expired. The problem is even more acute if a business has adopted a BYOD business strategy. According to Forrester Research, employees who feel they ‘own’ the equipment in question are more likely to use unauthorized services while at work. The fact that the device in question is employee-owned may not absolve a business from legal responsibility for what activity occurs on and over their network.
An added complication for businesses is technical rather than legal: the use of unsanctioned cloud solutions may open up security holes and vulnerabilities, particularly if employees are striking out on their own, using the solutions that strike them as best without regard to larger IT security considerations.
One way to navigate these tricky waters is to work closely with an IT consulting firm in your local area. Such a firm can offer a cornucopia of IT solutions including improved training programs for employees and software that can offer improved monitoring of network activity. An IT consultant can also offer invaluable guidance if a company decides to revise written guidelines with regard to these issues.
For best results, stay local. A business in Pennsylvania, for example, can get the most benefit from an IT support Philadelphia firm such as iCorps.