Hey, HR, get off of my cloud

When HR wants IT to lock down employee access to cloud services, you know someone's productivity is being wasted

HR people -- at least those in an article presented by HR Magazine -- fear that use of the cloud will reduce HR's control. They worry the adoption of public cloud-based systems will remove much of the control IT has over information, communication, intellectual property, and workplace policies, such as monitoring nonwork use of the Internet or detecting smut viewing at the office. When IT loses that control, so does HR.

The core problem is that people in HR don't know the first thing about cloud computing, so they involve IT people who are typically clueless as well. Together they miss the point that employees are doing what they can to be productive, including using file- and document-sharing cloud-based services, to be more efficienct and productive.

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The knee-jerk reaction at many companies -- exemplified by HR and IT policing policies -- is to put limitations in place. As an example of that knee-jerk thinking, the HR Magazine article advised, "Ideally, businesses should start by implementing technology-based restrictions on what staff can do. For example, it is one thing to tell staff that they cannot send work emails to their private email accounts without permission. However, it is much easier to prevent such email traffic in the first place using technology."

The truth is, even if you can put these "technology-based restrictions" in place, it's a matter of time before employees find ways around them. IT could work around the clock just to play whack-a-mole with the cloud services used by employees. But IT has better things to do -- or it should. So does HR.

The end game should be to make the employees as productive as possible, and cloud-based services are part of this brave new world. Polices should be written and followed. However, they should be guidelines that eliminate the use of some cloud services or restrict how the services can be deployed, to avoid specific, real, and likely problems.

If HR focuses on the potential misuse of cloud-based services, it will be in the hot seat as the group wasting company resources.

This article, "Hey, HR, get off of my cloud," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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