Device Management

BYOD encounters yet another hurdle

Tablet PC

While federal agencies seem willing to communicate with each other about what is and is not working in bring-your-own-device policies, those in industry appear unwilling to do the same, according to Tom Suder, co-chair of the Advanced Mobility Working Group within the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council.

“Behind the scenes, a lot of government folks are sharing ideas,” Suder said. “But in talking with larger integrators, they are uncomfortable sharing these policies – corporations are touchy about it. “ Companies are intent on maintaining their competitive advantage, he said, and thus reluctant to share information with each other.

On Jan. 10, Suder’s  working group – a coalition of government and industry executives focused on mobility – sent out surveys to members of the Federal CIO Council in an effort to ascertain how  federal agencies are progressing on their BYOD strategies and policies.  Survey questions included whether agencies had a BYOD strategy or working policy in place, whether they would share it publicly, and when they expected to have a policy if guidelines are not already in place.

Suder said the idea was to continue a public-private dialogue on BYOD policy, and then share innovative ideas online to inform the relatively new BYOD movement.  But while private firms are clearly further along with BYOD, Suder said many companies – including one that’s gone “100 percent BYOD” – do not want to risk losing competitive advantages they’ve worked hard to achieve.

That can be frustrating for agencies looking for ideas as they move forward. Recent recommendations,  like the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s draft version of Guidelines for Managing and Securing Mobile Devices in the Enterprise or the federal CIO Council’s BYOD toolkit, have helped form a base for some agency BYOD policies, but Suder said most agencies have not solidified BYOD policies just yet.

“Nobody’s locking into a policy," Suder said.  For most agencies, "it’s so new that it’s kind of a ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ kind of thing.”  And while feds could clearly learn from innovators in industry, he said, for now at least they will have to look elsewhere for proven roadmaps.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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Reader comments

Tue, Jan 22, 2013

Protect the data.

Mon, Jan 21, 2013

I do not think the issue is the BYOD competitive advantages to be shared or not. I perceive the issue is that the upper management wish to look progressive and not invest in IT equipment, (well the company does not have to pay for it,) and unlike the old days with IT equipment forced restrictions, you can buy what you want. And add all the features you want.. To achieve the BYOD integration you must break or majorly bend some standard security policies. Now would you want to share that with the public if you were a CEO?

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 Eric Tyson's Corner, VA

Beyond being "trendy", the fact of the matter is that people are brining their phones into agencies that are capable of capturing all sorts of data. That creates a security risk which needs to be addressed. In defense of the "CIO's qualifications", this is new technology, software manufacturers are still being vetted and the risk is why it is being forced on the IT enterprise, as oppose to the more common slow and measured adoption of traditional technologies. Stay tuned....

Mon, Jan 14, 2013

What's the policy going to be if my device gets lost or stolen or damaged whole in service to the GOV? Because when our office was burglarized a few years back the policy was Tough S**t, pal. I don't bring nice things to work any more.

Mon, Jan 14, 2013

Sure it's trendy, but have we seen substantial benefit projections for federal BYOD in areas other than making people happy? Do we really NEED it?

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