December 22, 2008 By Liza Lowery Massey
The world has gone mad for mobility, and the public sector is no exception. Benefits include: increased access to information, less need for fieldworkers to travel to the office and even less need for office space. With all the pros, one wonders why IT departments aren't jumping for joy.
But CIOs face many challenges as the work force becomes mobile, like providing reliable service and access; managing additional devices; securing the devices, access and information; and supporting mobile workers.
I've watched public-sector IT leaders try to stop the growth of mobile devices in their organizations. In addition to seeing mobility as a barrier to progress, they're disappointed when it happens anyway. The outcome of this resistance is often harder to manage than leading the organization's mobility efforts. When the organization doesn't provide mobility tools many employees use their personal devices for work.
Although the upside of discouraging mobility might be an insignificant amount of cost savings and the ability for IT to say, "We don't support your personal device," there are many risks that pose serious threats.
Information stored on personal devices is most likely not backed up and stored securely, and may lack updated software that prevents malware, viruses and Trojan horses. Security software probably isn't installed, secure configurations likely aren't in place and standard security practices probably aren't followed. The ability to push out upgrades and current versions of malware prevention and security software, as well as kill destructive programs or stolen devices aren't available. The ability to respond appropriately to Freedom of Information Act requests is compromised when government data is stored on personal devices. Last, personal devices go home with employees for good when they quit or retire.
Even employees who are denied mobility tools and don't use their own devices often circumvent IT protocols to bring mobile devices to work. Eventually these rogue mobile applications will require access to the organization's systems and data. The result is a highly diverse and complex environment that's difficult and costly to support and sustain.
Understanding that resistance is futile, I offer 10 steps to gain control of mobility in your organization:
May mobility live long and prosper!
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