The IT Manager's Guide to Surviving the Effects of Black Friday

Analysis: Your employees will come in Nov. 26 with the new devices they bought Black Friday. Then the craziness begins, and it probably won't end until 2013.

Even if you've been living in a cave on some secret intelligence agency reservation, you know the awful truth about Black Friday. No place in the Western World is spared the awareness that in the United States, at least, normal citizens become insane, probably from huge overdoses of tryptophan in their holiday turkeys.

Some of these people gather in unruly mobs, trying to save as much as 12 cents on the price of last year's version of a 93-inch HDTV. They use pepper spray and firearms. They've been known to kill anyone who impedes them (watch out Walmart strikers).

Worse, Black Friday has become grease-stained Thursday as some stores open early in their own crazed attempts to capture consumers before they're overrun. But they may not succeed in time. News footage is already showing encampments of Black Friday troops in place at Best Buy stores. Frightening, isn't it?

So what does this madness mean to you, the IT manager? In a word, chaos. Some of those crazed Best Buy shoppers, as well as others, their foam-slathered jowls trembling with greed, on Cyber Monday will present you with their purchases. They will want them to work with the company network. They will want to use them with the corporate email system. They will want to store their confidential documents on those devices. You, in turn, will want to head for the airport and depart immediately for a diving trip to Fiji.

Instead, when you return from the Thanksgiving holiday, you'll need to be ready with answers for your employees as they come to you clutching the electronics that they waited for days to buy. What do you tell them?

If you planned ahead—and if you're reading this, I hope you have—you'll have set up a sort of triage system. First, you'll handle those people who bought something you already support, such as a new iPhone, iPad Mini or a new Android device. With these people, the choice is easy. You provide whatever software is required by your organization, register them on the network and send them on their way. You can probably assign a technician to handle these cases.

But there will likely be a few Android devices that don't quite fit the standard pattern, and those people will have to move to stage two of triage. These will be devices such as the Kindle Fire HD, which runs Android, but doesn't run a standard version of Android. You'll need to subject these items to further testing.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...