Most of today’s employees always keep their personal smartphones within reach—even at work. Private companies have struggled to integrate this bring-your-own-device (BYOD) reality with business communications. Governments face the same challenge, but with heightened security concerns and more intense scrutiny.
But the challenge is worth facing: As more government agencies accept BYOD, the cloud becomes the perfect solution to ensure productivity and security.
5 ways BYOD is good for government
If BYOD is the new norm, how can government reap the benefits? Here are five reasons for your agency or municipality to embrace BYOD.
IT cost savings. With BYOD, the costs of hardware decrease dramatically. Instead of relying on you to provide telecommunications devices, employees use their own. When the State of Delaware began a voluntary BYOD program, it saw a 45 percent decrease in device expenses, resulting in a reduction of overall wireless costs by 15 percent.
In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reduced mobile device costs 20 percent to 30 percent when it initiated its BYOD program. Also, with BYOD, IT doesn’t have to purchase constantly changing hardware and adapt internal infrastructure to support it.
Accessibility. In many government organizations, staff must be accessible at all times, whether they’re in the office, in a meeting or in the field. With the sophistication of today’s mobile devices, cloud-based solutions can make that happen. Unified Communications (UC) enables voice, video conferencing, file sharing, presence technology and more, all accessible through a secure portal to the internet.
For example, an inspector who spends all his time in the field can receive a call routed to his mobile from the network. He can also join meetings virtually, and even share documents. Mobile features are essential to provide responsive service to the public.
Productivity and efficiency. Over 80 percent of the workforce at the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) works remotely, often from home. No matter which personal device employees choose to use (laptop, tablet, desktop or mobile), they can perform their jobs efficiently by accessing the TTB’s internal network via a secure cloud connection.
BYOD also increases efficiency because employees are more familiar with their own devices. And since so many workers have their phones with them at all times, accessibility improves. The result is more efficient collaboration with colleagues and faster communications with the public.
New workforce. Almost a third of the federal government’s workforce is eligible for retirement. That means filling those positions with younger employees who are accustomed to 24/7 access to their devices. This younger generation wants the ability to work on the device of their choosing. They also expect the ability to access files, people and work tools no matter where they are. Because government is competing with the private sector for these workers, it has little choice but to offer BYOD.
Rapidly changing technology. Gone are the days when you received notice of an upcoming software upgrade. Today, updates happen constantly. Software and hardware improvements occur at such a dizzying pace, it’s difficult for IT keep up with all the changes. As Software as a Service (SaaS) and secure access to the cloud becomes the norm, BYOD allows government to keep up with advances without additional infrastructure cost.
Best Practices for implementing BYOD
If you’re considering implementing BYOD in your city, state or federal government agency, you don’t have to start from scratch. Numerous resources are available, as well as case studies and toolkits. Here are some guidelines to get you on your way.
Decide who will be eligible for BYOD. All staff? Field staff only? Emergency responders? Does the employee work remotely some or all of the time? Do they need to be accessed wherever they may be working? Do they own a “smart” device? (Even today, not everyone does.)
Create a policy to define all aspects of BYOD use. It’s essential to outline policies, standards and rules of behavior for the use of personal devices. Here are examples from the State of Delaware and the State of Maine.
Security considerations. Of major concern is keeping data secure—especially with BYOD in government. The advantage of using a cloud-based communications solution is that IT can control access to data more efficiently. No data should reside on the personal device, which can be lost or stolen.
Integrating BYOD into your IT infrastructure is no longer a choice. But the benefits are many, including cost savings, accessibility, productivity, talent acquisition and access to new technology.
A robust BYOD policy can help you attract and retain great people. Learn more with our white paper. >