In theory, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is an easy sell—employers no longer have to devote budget dollars on company smartphones, and employees don’t need to carry two devices. But for federal agencies, it hasn’t been that simple.
With valid compliance and security concerns, many government CIOs are still bullish on BYOD adoption Their questions include how to authenticate sensitive information on a personal mobile device, or how IT staff can remotely remove government data without deleting personal stuff, including all of the photos, games or music stored on the device.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration is encouraging agencies to adopt BYOD programs. It’s just one part of a larger White House strategy to modernize and mobilize technology throughout the federal government. And while the case for implementing a BYOD program varies among agencies, the benefits are common: reduced costs, increased productivity and improved user experience for a changing workforce. In August 2012, a comprehensive White House BYOD Toolkit was released. It outlined best practices and offered case studies of agencies that have made BYOD part of the IT landscape.
TTB devises a plan—virtually
One of those agencies is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The TTB has a widely dispersed workforce, with 80% of employees on some sort of teleworking program. The agency centralized all client computing power and applications, user data and user settings and allow access to through thin client computing devices. Employees can connect through smartphones, tablets or their computers at home, depending on need.
TTB CIO Robert Hughes writes: “The main lesson learned about BYOD is that by preventing data from actually loading onto end point devices, the agency could avoid many of the security problems cited for BYOD. Therefore, the real story here is how virtualization enables mobility when mobile devices are purely displays and not data processing devices.”
A strong case for BYOD
The TTB is just one case study highlighted in the toolkit, and more agencies are expected to adopt similar programs. Its no surprise, as a recent survey by the Mobile Work Exchange showed that federal workers gain nine hours of productivity each week because of mobile devices.
That’s just the beginning,
The toolkit reads: “The growing trend of BYOD demonstrates that we as IT leaders have changed how we adopt technology. Gone are the days of long projects that address every demand. We must now integrate new technologies in a rapid, iterative, agile, interoperable, and secure method to meet changing market and customer needs.”
For more information on mobility solutions for government, see Dell’s federal site.