IT isn't worried about "data leakage." Thanks to Consumerization, IT is hoping for "data ingestion!"

In today's world, enterprise data isn't in the enterprise. It's created with a camera, Google Docs, or Evernote.

In today's world, enterprise data isn't in the enterprise. It's created with a camera, Google Docs, or Evernote. I mean think about Evernote from an employee's perspective. Every thought goes straight into Evernote, and the user picks and chooses what they "export" to IT. It's no longer about data leakage. Now you're praying for data ingestion. You're hoping and praying people CHOOSE to put data into the enterprise, because they have all the incentive not to!

The preceding paragraph is a paraphrased quote from David Stafford's breakout session at BriForum 2013 London called What Got Us Here Won't Get Us There: Today's IT Needs to Get with the Times. Now that TechTarget runs BriForum I actually have time to attend sessions, and David's session was one of my favorites as he looked at what we can do as IT professionals to stay relevant to our users and our organizations in this consumerization-powered world.

Getting back to the point of this article, it is interesting that the model has been completely flipped. In the "old days" (what, five years ago), when it came to file and data storage, we in IT totally owned everything. We could use tools like DLP and DRM to ensure that "our data" stayed within the bounds of "our systems."

But what a different story in 2013! Sure, we can still use DLP and DRM to lock down and protect the "institutionally-generated" data. (Reports from financial systems, etc.) But when it comes to individual files and documents, there's absolutely nothing stopping a user from jotting down or creating their content on their devices and saving them to their preferred cloud service. And in fact most of the software providers and SaaS vendors are making it easier and easier for users to just "pop in" to their apps to jot down some thoughts while we in the IT world try to wrap more and more authentication and security around our "enterprise social" apps.

So David's point is right on. Five years ago we were worried about enterprise data leaking out of our enterprise systems and into the wild. But in today's world, much of that "enterprise" data isn't even in our enterprise systems to begin with, so rather than worrying about "data leakage," we're praying for "data ingestion." We're hoping that our users actually choose to share their enterprise data with us.

To that end, what have you found in your own organizations? How do you deal with this?

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Thanks for attending the session, Brian! - Glad you enjoyed it. - My favorite thing about this quote is that it wasn't prepared -it just became intuitively obvious during the Evernote example monologue.

Brett Belding (@bbelding) and I talked about this in an enterprise collaboration context.  Think about a university lecture session; if you missed class, you find someone to share notes.  Even if you did attend the lecture, you compare notes with others.

We think one of the best things enterprises can do to encourage data ingestion is to provide world-class collaboration tools. I think that is becoming apparent in the vendor ecosystem and it will be interesting to see what innovations will make turning over "your" content to the enterprise become worth way more than keeping it to yourself.


For our organisation (large acute hospital), this is really important due to patient identifiable data. We have no way or hope in stopping staff from using a personal device for work purposes.

So our efforts will be around making enterprise connectivity rewarding and worthwhile. For example, users on 3G devices can use Dropbox or other file sharing solutions despite our warnings not to. So we want to deploy an in-house file sharing app and convince them to use this instead.

But at the end of the day this new age of IT turns over more control to the user. This can be a good thing as it encourages ownership and flexibility. But the users need to realise their responsibilities and we need to have robust HR policies to deal with those who don't take it seriously.


This is so deeply true.

Other than "robust HR policies", I think IT is quickly going to be left with only a wallet as a tool here.  IT can't possibly compete with the free market to deliver "world class tools".  Perhaps if they offer to pay for the premium version of something (that happens to have some enterprise controls baked in) that might influence users to use it vs. another... occasionally.  Otherwise, unless they fear being fired, the users will use what makes them most productive.

My company uses MDM, but my grocery list is mixed with my meeting notes, and my photos of the whiteboard are mixed with photos of my daughter.  I have to make a conscious choice and exert effort to do it otherwise. That's hard/impossible to overcome.

The reality is that this isn't a problem technology can solve anymore.  Sure, software can help with the CYA urge, and caters nicely to the desperate grasps of an organization losing control, but they don't and can't actually address the problem in a meaningful way.

To me the question is do they really need to.  Somehow the world continued forward when people brought (non-employer supplied) briefcases to work and might occasionally misplace them.  I suspect the world will move forward largely uninterrupted this time too.