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Prediction: 5 trends for federal mobility

There’s no doubt that mobility has taken center stage in the federal government’s plans to become a more efficient entity. Surveys and polls also point to the same direction: Federal employees not only use mobile devices every day, but they conduct increasingly sophisticated tasks on their smart phones, tablets and laptops. 

“Bring your own device” is no longer just a quirky fad; it's become a solid concept that shapes mobile use in the government, spurring innovation and creating new demands in security. And not to forget the bottom line: Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel has consistently advocated for a more mobile public sector in a wider sweep to increase workforce productivity by “liberating [employees] from ineffective 20th-century work practices.”

Here, Sudhir Verma, vice president of consulting at technology provider Force 3, breaks down his predictions for mobility trends in 2012, including BYOD, cloud procurement and new capabilities.

BYOD will push true mobility: The BYOD trend will force executives to evaluate employee policies and likely create reimbursement programs for devices. The proliferating use of personal devices in work environment will continue to push the edges of true mobility, any data, any place, any device, anytime. BYOD as a way to become “mobile” is becoming more and more realistic. IPads/iPhones/Mac books/Android-based tablets and phones are already in the workplace. The ever-growing use of personal devices to access corporate applications and data can become challenging for IT departments. But the good news is, if done right, BYOD can benefit both IT departments and the users.

User experience key for widespread mobility adoption: User experience for a mobile user has to be at par with the traditional office user. When selecting technologies to enable mobility and BYOD, IT executives must consider the user experience as one of the key elements for widespread implementation. The success of any technology deployment relies on user adoptability and experience. Mobility is no longer just limited to select few. As the workforce becomes become mobile, employees will expect access to more than just e-mail and calendar. This will require IT to reassess their business application, development, and services strategies. Concepts such as virtual desktop, along with private and public cloud as a form of delivering services, can improve mobile user experience and must be part of IT strategy in 2012.

Mobility will dramatically change the IT budget in the near future. Users will continue to drive the ability to access any data from any device any place/anytime in a secure seamless fashion. To support the momentum toward mobility, IT needs to look at technologies that may not fit in the "norm" for budgeting and procurement, especially if funding for hardware/software is program specific. As IT moves toward various cloud offerings, procurement for "cloud" will differ from procurement for typical IT equipment. It can get more complicated if there are multiple programs requiring cloud type services, and a "pay as you go" model should be set up for each program.

Video must be incorporated. Mobility adoption will transform how we communicate and interact across the workforce. Missions don't get accomplished by just sending emails! It requires the human touch, the experience of "being there" and trust, even if the workforce is mobile. High level of mobility has a fundamental impact on workforce connectedness, collaboration and how we build trust across mobile workforce. Perhaps on a short-term basis, the workforce can sustain the disconnect, but in the long term we need faces. We want to see whom we are working with. Video strategy built around mobility is critical to establish a collaborative trusting work environment. Face-to-face interaction is invaluable. Success of the mission may be dependent on it.

Technology is converging. The IT skill set must evolve to support the mobile user in these converged changing architectures. It’s imperative that IT executives carefully assess the skill set in their IT shops prior to going down a road that may lead to increase in administration cost and complexity. Good IT talent is hard to find as it is. Retaining, retooling and attracting the right talent will be critical for success for any initiative.

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Feb 27, 2012 at 12:19 PM

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Reader comments

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 Wright Patt Fed Wright-Patt AFB

These articles drive my IT nuts, because they raise expectations to very unrealistic levels for users. Here in DoD/DoE land, there is simply no way personal devices are going to either connect to or even access/display official info. Too much risk, and too much downside.

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 Lee C MD

These will not happen over night with your current infrastructure, but these changes are going to happen and you will see more flexible solutions that will not decrease security but rather improve security. Most Intel agencies will not move in this direction but civilian and DoD will and are moving in this direction as we speak. Moving does not always mean changes are being installed but rather solutions are being developed and tested daily.

Tue, Feb 28, 2012

Never happen here, cells, wireless, personal PC's are all banned because of security issues. One of the problems with being west instead of in the DC area with all of the high powered pay grades/politicians who can not spell COMSEC.

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 DoD Fed FL

Unless and until you are willing to install the crippled OS required for Govt network access, you will not be doing DoD work on your own mobile device. It will not happen. Can you say SECURITY? And I'm talking about unclassified network not classified.

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 Stefanie J

Wow! I guess DoD, DoN gov employees didn't get the memo about BYOD. And, are we supposed to "hook it" into the network? Really? Not allowed here. You can bring your cell phone or smart phone, but you better think twice about hooking into the "network".

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