BYOD encounters yet another hurdle

As agencies try to craft effective policies, the private sector is not sharing lessons learned.

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.

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