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Keeping an Eye on the End User

Lev Dolgachov Alamy Stock Photo.jpg

Image: Lev Dolgachov - Alamy Stock Photo
As I get packed and ready to head down to Enterprise Connect 2022 in Orlando, Fla., I find myself thinking about the people that all of this technology is supposed to be for: The employee, be they office-based or remote, desk-bound or mobile, video-fatigued or ready for the metaverse. The last couple of years pre-pandemic, we talked a good bit at Enterprise Connect about the employee/end user — mostly about how to get them to adopt this cool new technology that they often didn’t seem to care enough about to really get into.
 
The combination of technology’s advancement and the social changes wrought by the pandemic have changed the conversation. From the enterprise’s perspective, the imperative to get employees using all this new technology has never been stronger. If workers are going to be remote, the enterprise wants to know that these folks are truly engaged — both for the company’s benefit and (one hopes) the employee’s as well. Here’s a data point from a presentation coming up next week in Orlando: Omdia research found that enterprises believe one of the most important areas for investment is “programs to help improve the digital skills and competency of employees.”
 
On the other hand, people are rightfully concerned about how intrusive such technology can become. On No Jitter last week, attorney Martha Buyer spelled out the dilemma:
 
“The privacy issues are only just beginning to surface, as VR/AR analyst Tom Brannen of OnConvergence told me. As VR technology advances, vendors will be adding more cameras to their VR devices, and biometrics information will be simply ‘there for the taking,’ he explained. Biometric data gathered from VR and contextual awareness, which can enable technology to measure your blood pressure or watch your eye focus, also creates incredible challenges for maintaining the little bit of personal privacy that we still can claim.”
 
The concern all comes down to the title of Martha’s post: “VR & Metaverse Ethics: It’s All About the Data.”
 
IT people used to deal with network data: What kind of packets were flowing across the network, from what sources to what destinations. If you really wanted to, you could use that information to determine who was spending all day streaming March Madness in the office, and the enterprise could do with that information what it chose. But mostly, you use it to make sure users are getting acceptable quality of service.
 
Responsibly monitoring and managing network information is still critical — there isn’t any communications without the network, be it wired or wireless. But like everything else, it seems that our knowledge of user behavior is going to move up the stack to the application layer — or higher (at what layer of the network model should we say the user’s blood pressure reading resides?).
 
These are the strategic and ethical considerations. At this point, with employees just starting to return to the office, most enterprise IT teams have their hands full just getting the technology into people’s hands and getting it working optimally. That level is still where most of our Enterprise Connect program is to be found next week. But we’re also tracking issues like the ROI for current uses of analytics and future ethical implications for the technology’s direction.
 
Next week is going to be full of incredible learning and great conversations, and these will be happening both at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando and online in the virtual portion of our hybrid Enterprise Connect 2022 event. If it’s too late for you to get down to Orlando, I encourage you to sign up for the virtual event, where you can compare the major vendors side by side, take part in peer discussions, and watch industry-driving keynotes and general sessions. You can see all our sessions here and sort for Virtual or Orlando/in-person.
 
It’s going to be an amazing week, and I hope you’ll be with us for it.

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