Don’t ban employees from watching the cricket premier league at work place. It’s possible to keep them happy and your business humming.

The much awaited Season 6 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is here and IT teams are feeling the impending impact of the matches being streamed on their companies’ networks. Employees are bound to spend most of April and May watching IPL matches on the job and actually doing their job (during work hours). Mobile streaming, social media updates, desktop streaming of matches - there is no escaping this mania! There are more than three Web sites offering (officially) live streaming of matches on desktops and laptops, while reports suggest that mobile video streaming of the matches on cell phones will be a trend this year.

Given this overwhelming popularity of the IPL madness, it’s definitely not getting any easier to simply turn a blind eye to all the match-related activities? Rather than locking down the network, why not allow employees to stream the matches, post their tweets and Facebook updates, and trust that they will be responsible enough to take care of their jobs at the same time?

Well, that approach might be easier but it’s certainly not smarter. Although the vast majority of employees will watch responsibly without letting the matches interfere with delivering quality work, the collective network activity generated by the cricket-obsessed employees can bring enterprise networks to a crawl. Consequently, putting a choke hold on the performance and availability of business applications, e-commerce activities and other business-critical network services.

To keep your IPL fans happy and your business humming during the months of April and May, check out the five tips below.

Right Policy

Establish IT policies that address business and personal apps on the network. In the era of BYOD and ‘work from anywhere, at any time,’ companies need to accommodate a reasonable degree of personal usage to their corporate networks. Just don’t let your employees inadvertently bring down the network by overwhelming it with unreasonable personal use. Instead, carve out a few hours to create appropriate policies that prioritise the function of mission-critical applications and that will be time well spent.

For IT teams, this means setting alerts based on bandwidth utilisation and identifying bandwidth threats before they get out of hand. Ideally, IT teams will set real-time alerts and business-hour filters, so they are notified about problems — and can fix them — as they happen.

Mindful Monitoring

Monitor your network for availability or poor performance. The corporate network pumps business-critical and highly-sensitive information inside the company and out to the world at large.

Any degradation in performance or disruption in availability can have grave consequences in both the short and long term. In addition to seriously damaging the company’s reputation, poor network performance and availability can hamper productivity and adversely affect the overall mission of the company.

Every IT organisation—across SMBs and SMEs, needs to be vigilant of network availability and performance. This isn’t a luxury. It’s a mandatory network task that can be accomplished with affordable, real-time tools that provide IT teams with visibility and analytics.

Curb misuse

Evaluate the bandwidth vampires. Simply put, bandwidth is the lifeblood of the company. That means a key part of your job is to identify and eliminate the bandwidth vampires, those unauthorised and bandwidth-sucking personal applications that adversely impact the performance of the applications that actually run your business.

With the right tools installed, IT teams must create and analyse highly granular reports on network bandwidth utilisation. Performing such granular network analysis will help throw light on the bandwidth vampires.

Quick thinking

Monitor application traffic in real-time and make changes on the fly. Between configuring network devices, resolving trouble tickets and beyond, IT teams just don’t have a lot of free time. By assigning the highest priority to CRM, ERP, e-mail and other core apps, you can prevent April-May madness from undermining your business.

Get control over apps that employees are using on their mobile devices. According to data provided by Apalya Technologies, the exclusive rights holder for mobile video streaming for IPL Season 5, in the first seven days of the tournament there were 7 lakh people who viewed the matches on their mobile phones. This is exponentially high, compared to a mere 2 lakh mobile views in the earlier seasons.

This only implies that IT departments need to expand their real-time monitoring of devices within the defined corporate environment, both company-issued and personally owned. IT managers need to be able to take control at any time and be able to regulate applications that run on the network on any mobile device. And if you don’t already have one, get an effective mobile device management (MDM) strategy in place sooner rather than later.

The IPL season is here and there is no barring your employees to some fun. With these tips, you can accommodate the IPL matches on your network without letting them knock your company off of its game.

(The author is President, ManageEngine.)

(This article was published on April 4, 2013)
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