Mobile

How to get the most out of mobility

Microsoft's Marco Manuello

Microsoft's Marco Manuello says being overly cautious on mobile is a good way to waste money.

Security and ease of use go hand in hand for one simple reason: "If a device isn't easy to use, people will leave it at home."

That might solve your security problem, but it aggravates employees and stifles innovation.

"If you have to change your password every week, people will go online and Google how to circumvent that password-changing process," said Marco Manuello, Windows and Device Strategy Lead for Worldwide Public Sector. So, even if it starts out secure, "if the device is not easy to use, it won't be secure for much longer."

In 2013, there were 7 billion network devices in existence. By the end of 2015, the number will reach 14 billion. By 2020, the number is expected to reach 50-70 billion.

Those numbers mean agencies need to create a mobile workforce, a task Manuello said government is still struggling to address.

"In general, government -- outside of a few pockets -- doesn't have the funding to give everyone mobile devices," Manuello said. "Many people have a better device at home, and they bring that device in, and that clashes with a number of things," most prominently security.

And that's where the trouble starts.

Management in government tends to be "overly cautious" in the face of multiple security threats, according to Manuello. But excessive cautiousness can lead to extra costs.

"The biggest expense in mobility isn't the hardware, and it's not the software, it's the training," Manuello said. "Every time you have to tell someone to do something different, you spend money on something." Often, he said, that "something" yields little or no benefit to the employee, the manager of the enterprise.

"The point isn't who buys the device, it's how much choice the people have and what they want to work with," Manuello said. "If you want to manage every device to the 9th degree, it will not be cost effective."

One way to get the most out of mobile devices is by going in and observing day-to-day operations. The goal is to have a device that can be used in an intuitive way and doesn't require a lot of costly or time-consuming training.

About the Author

Colby Hochmuth is a staff writer covering big data, cloud computing and the federal workforce. Connect with her on Twitter: @ColbyAnn.

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