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BYOD in Review for 2012 – Managing The Mobile Workforce

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Patrick Fiorenza

Throughout the month of December, GovLoop has been reviewing the year in government technology – everything from BYOD to social media, I’ve been working to highlight some case studies, best practices and try and condense the year down into one post on the most critical topics for 2012, while looking forward to the year 2013. Follow along here by viewing GovLoop’s Year in Review Guide, our related blog series, and podcasts.

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We are now seeing increasing interest in telework, data security, information sharing, collaboration tools, knowledge management, mobile devices, bring your own device initiatives, and above all, allowing an employee to work where, when, and how they desire. Cisco has been calling this trend the “unified workspace,” which allows agencies to adopt a philosophy of “bring your own everything,” whether employees use tablets or mobile devices, the “bring your own everything” approach allows government employees to work on the device they desire and at any location.

It’s worth reiterating – we are no longer confined to a physical location to perform our work. Leaving something at the office is becoming increasingly obsolete. In our personal and professional lives, we are becoming increasingly reliant on technology. For better or worse, it’s a trend government cannot ignore.

Be sure to take a look at our report on BYOD for more insights on BYOD, below I’ve charted out some predictions for 2013 and how BYOD (err… BYOE), will shape 2013 for government.

1 – BYOD goes BYOE to create workplace 2.0

One trend that I anticipate to see is that public sector agencies begin to adopt policies and structures to accommodate for the modern workplace. The growing trends of working anywhere, any location shows that the way the “workplace” is defined is rapidly changing. Sounding like a broken record, but again, for most people, the workplace is no longer defined as just an agency commissioned laptop or desktop computer. The workplace now includes the multitude of devices employees use to access information to be productive and efficient.

It’s back to the compelling idea of a unified workplace, which allows employees to receive access to organizational intellectual property, servers, collaboration tools, and immediate access to colleagues within the agency. In 2013, look for the unified workspace environment to provide a work experience that is on par with working at a physical location. This work experience is created by seamlessly connecting employees to information and resources.

2 – Security Issues Understood and Solutions Implemented

Take a moment to stop and think how easy it is for us to connect to information. With this kind of hyper-connectivity, agencies for good reason have security concerns. Cyber security is constantly reported as the top concern for CIO’s, and in order for trends like BYOD/BYOE to be adopted in a secure way, security issues will have to be resolved. In many ways, security is there for agencies; it’s just a matter of adopting the right technology, training employees and becoming increasingly agile to adopt security practices that facilitate demands of the workforce. Of course, this is one easier said than done, but it’s imperative now for agencies, and as it is a first priority for all agencies, security challenges must be addressed and there will be increased examples of BYOD adoption in 2013.

Malcolm Jackson, CIO at the EPA, had a great quote on security issues, “We are in the middle of a mobile explosion. From the perspective of the size (they continue to get smaller), to the perspective of capabilities and price point. It’s the perfect storm for technologists. Platforms should be agnostic; that gets to the whole BYOD mantra. CIOs should be focusing on safe and secure delivery of information in a manner that doesn’t necessarily factor in the various operating systems. The big ask becomes. How do we provide a secure tunnel into our systems through the endpoints of mobile devices that our users have available to them and deliver the capabilities they need in a fashion that they can use to meet their mission goals.”

You can hear Malcolm’s entire interview by checking out year in technology report, and the follow up blog post.

3 – Faster Adoption Rates

With the pace that technology moves, and with a lot of the foundation set for BYOD in 2012, I’d anticipate increased adoption for BYOD/BYOE and modern workplaces. Linda Cureton stated in a recent interview on the DorobekINSIDER, “Mobile and BYOD will become how the government does business. CIOs will stop looking at endpoint devices but looking at data applicants and capabilities to deliver more reliable internet technology. At this point a lot of people do BYOD anyway so in 2013 we want to do it in a better more managed way.”

4 – Mobile Battle Field

No matter what, the big players in mobile will continue to duke it out next year. We’ll see all sorts of releases, features and innovations trying to keep customers happy and steal some new ones from competitors. This applies for pressure on agencies to remain device agnostic, and agile to keep pace with the changes to technology from the consumer world.

5 – Consumerization 10x in 2012

Related to number 4 – but with so many new releases and features, people will continue to become more dependent on technology and desire to use those tools in the office. This complicates a lot of policy and strategy for agencies and places a degree of uncertainty towards a long term mobile strategy. For instance, let’s say a government agency selects a vendor to help implement and provide security for their mobile strategy. The real challenge becomes is how to best work with the vendor to be able to accommodate new devices, new security features, and keep architectures secure.

As Linda stated, BYOD is already happening, and with more devices entering government, and the increased reliance that society has on mobile technology, government will be adopting increased BYOD/BYOE strategies to keep pace with technology innovations. 2013 will be fascinating to see how BYOD continues to unfold. Anticipate to see increasing examples of adoption, and agencies moving closer and closer to providing a work environment on par with the physical work environment.

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