As governments transition to mobile work environments, agency CIOs are faced with a marketplace full of smartphones and tablets to consider. But according to AT&T Mobility Application Consultant David Pearce, a successful mobile technology adoption is more dependent on good usage policies than the capabilities of a particular device.

Pearce delivered his remarks on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at GTC West, a technology executive event held in Sacramento, Calif., at the Sacramento Convention Center. GTC West is hosted by e.Republic Inc., Government Technology’s parent company. Pearce said the main difficulty agencies have when first adopting a mobile strategy is seeing what devices are hitting their network and what people are doing with them.

Polling the crowd during the “Emerging Mobile Workstyles” session at GTC West, Pearce noted that only a handful of technologists in the audience had mobile device management in place on their networks and even fewer had plans to adopt usage policies in the next 18 months.

“The devices are like the candy at the end of the rope,” Pearce said. “If it doesn’t do what you want in the end … you have hundreds of them out there, but you only know where 30 of them are.”

Although desktop computing isn’t dead, the role is “definitely” shrinking, Pearce added. He explained that employers are starting to move the workforce out of the office and enable employees to do everything virtually in the field.

Security also is a big concern when transitioning to a BYOD culture and mobile environment. From jailbroken iPhones and hacked Androids, agencies need to know what’s hitting their networks, particularly as employees use the devices to stay connected to work from various locations around the country and the world.

Pearce compared the iPhone and Android and admitted that while iOS is a “little less susceptible to viruses or rogue code,” if a device does what a person needs, agencies need to accommodate it.

“When you start thinking about mobility, think about your processes,” Pearce said. “Think about what it is you’re trying to change or improve. And then develop some very severe criteria when you start to evaluate solutions.”

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. He also contributes to Emergency Management magazine. Brian started his journalism career in 1999, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y.