A few years back, I read a Gartner prediction that in the near future, many enterprises would no longer have corporate IT assets—users would simply bring in their own devices. That prediction is getting closer to fruition, especially when you consider the proliferation of personal smartphones and other devices.
It's interesting, then, to see that federal government agencies are at the forefront of this BYOD (or “bring your own device”) trend. There are important parallels to the insurance industry, since both government agencies and insurance companies tend to rely heavily on legacy systems for much of their number-crunching and both tend to be conservative and cost-conscious when adopting new technology.
A survey out of CDW Government LLC, a provider of technology solutions to government, education and healthcare organizations, found that more than half of 414 federal employees surveyed use at least one mobile device at work, and many are using personal devices to accomplish work-related tasks. Nearly all federal employees who use a mobile device for work believe the device makes them more productive, and the majority say increased mobility will improve citizen service. Another 69 percent of employees say increased mobility will improve service to citizens.
Employees already spend plenty of time with the devices as well. A total of 63 percent spend at least an hour on their smartphone, and 31 percent spend up to two hours.
As with many things related to technology, security is a vexing issue. While 82 percent of the IT professionals in the survey said their agency deployed encryption for mobile devices, far fewer said their agency protects mobile devices with multi-factor authentication (54 percent), remote lock and wipe (45 percent), or data loss prevention software (39 percent). Agencies are providing a good security baseline for mobile device use, however, as the majority are establishing mobile data security policies (85 percent) and requiring data security training for mobile device users (84 percent).
One answer to mobile security management as well as administration is mobile device management (MDM) – which is the over-the-air distribution of applications, data and configuration settings for all types of mobile devices. About 71 percent if federal agencies are employing MDM at least in a limited way.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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