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Is your IT team ready for network madness during the NCAA tournaments?

March 19, 2015
By Jason Hayman

You know what we mean. It’s that time of year again—when brackets get scrawled on every whiteboard and your boss surreptitiously watches ESPN on an iPad under his desk. Everyone’s computers run suspiciously more slowly than they did last week, and maybe some cash changes hands behind the water cooler.

The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments can be a fun time to build relationships with coworkers and inject some fun into the office, but they can also be a nightmare for IT. More than a quarter (27 percent) of IT professionals say they have personally been asked to loan their IT expertise during the NCAA tournaments or other sporting events, according to a recent TEKsystems survey. That includes being asked to do tasks like setting up central viewing capabilities, or developing a betting pool app.

Sneaky security setbacks

Besides the burden of special requests, there’s a dark side to accessing websites related to activities associated with the NCAA tournaments. Network security is a major concern for IT departments, with nearly half (47 percent) of IT professionals believing their company’s network will be at greater risk due to employees visiting sports news sites, sources for tournament bracket software and gambling sites, to name a few.

While the majority (56 percent) indicate their company has a policy for Internet use unrelated to work events like the NCAA tournaments, 68 percent report that they have seen employees “work around” these mandates. Using personal devices such as a smartphone or tablet can also impact network security and bandwidth.

Bandwidth blues

Forty-two percent of IT professionals say their company has experienced bottleneck or bandwidth issues due to increased Internet usage during the NCAA tournament in the past. A slow network can negatively impact productivity and impede processes such as form submissions, video conferencing, website updates and more—so your team’s workload may have even more requests heaped on it by employees struggling to actually be productive.

How to mitigate the effects—without being a killjoy

If your hands are already feeling sweaty, don’t fret! There are ways to prevent network madness. It depends on your company culture and the work that needs to get done, but a possible solution is to create one central viewing area in a conference room or public space where employees can follow key games while they work. Reiterate computer and Internet policies, and put measures in place to ensure they’re enforced—if you don’t have the clout, express your concerns to someone who does.

The good news is, while the tournament lasts several weeks, only the early rounds interfere with normal working hours. Typically, interest wanes once brackets bust and fewer teams are left standing.

How do you prevent network madness in your office? Tweet us @TEKsystems to let us know!

Check out our recent post about the results of our Big Data survey

As market research manager, Jason Hayman leads development, execution and analysis of all TEKsystems research initiatives. His work includes annual and quarterly industry surveys that aim to identify and understand the challenges, trends and impact areas affecting leaders and professionals in the IT industry.

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