The three kinds of apps IT does not want you to download

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Gambling apps are the worst type of apps for employees to download, according to IT decision makers. But they also hate it when employees download unapproved file-sharing and social networking apps.

Absolute Software, which helps companies manage mobile devices and apps, commissioned a survey of 1,200 IT decision makers from private companies with more than 500 employees. As part of the survey, they asked them to name the three worst apps that employees could download.

Gambling topped the list, with 58% of the responses. That's not surprising: nobody wants employees gambling on the job. 

But the next two choices were a little more startling. More than half (51%) of IT pros named file-sharing apps, and 42% named social networking apps like Facebook and Twitter.

File-sharing is useful for collaboration, and an entire industry has sprung up around it, with enterprise file-sharing and collaboration services like Box, Egnyte, and Accellion trying to disrupt on-premise solutions like Microsoft SharePoint. Consumer-focused companies like Dropbox and YouSendIt are also beginning to reach out to enterprises. 

But a lot of IT organizations are blacklisting these apps -- among the 45% of survey respondents who blacklisted apps, 57% banned Dropbox and 42% banned Box. Cloud-based productivity tool Evernote was also banned in 35% of the companies who had a blacklist.

The likely reason for these bans is fear that proprietary company information will leak out through these services.

Security was the top reason for blacklisting apps by far, with 85% of IT pros naming it as the reason. Lost productivity was a lesser concern, with only 55% of the blacklisting companies naming it.

Social networking sites also fared poorly -- 63% of companies with a blacklist refused to allow their employees to download Facebook, and 49% banned Twitter.

This is a little more understandable. Social networking is viewed by a lot of IT shops as a waste of time at best, and a potential valve for leaking company secrets at worst. Still, social networks can be used for legitimate purposes like defusing customer service complaints. 

The takeaway:  the battle between end-users and IT is ongoing. Startups who hope to penetrate the enterprise through end-users can get to a certain point -- but eventually, they'll have to get IT on their side as well.

There were a few other points of interest in the survey as well:

  • 22% of companies surveyed still dictate which mobile platforms employees may use, rather than letting them choose their own device.
  • 67% of companies make employees agree that IT can remotely lock and wipe their device if it's lost -- even if the employees own the device.
  • Among the companies that build in-house apps -- 56% of the respondents -- 61% build them for iOS and 58% for Android. But surprisingly 44% are building in-house apps for Windows Mobile or Windows Phone as well.
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