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The Impact of the Consumerization of IT on the Public Sector


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The consumerization of IT is a trend that is not being taken lightly within government. With the speed at which technology changes, new devices, strategies and technologies have emerged in the workplace. Consider this, a computer in the early 1970s was a device that could fill an entire office. Today, 130 million Americans carry around smartphones with the same or greater computing power in their pockets. Not surprisingly, those same 130 million Americans want to bring those devices to work and access resources anytime, anywhere. But that access is a nightmare for security and regulatory personnel. So how can government move forward without risking the enterprise?

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The Impact of the Consumerization of IT on the Public Sector

  1. 1. The Impact of Consumerization of IT on the Public 1 Industry Perspective The Impact of Consumerization of IT on the Public Sector
  2. 2. HP Industry Perspective http://government.hp.com1 In this report, Bruce Michelson, DistinguishedTechnologist at HP, highlights how the consumerization of IT is transforming the public sector workforce, and making the ability to work anywhere, anytime, on any device a reality for government employees.
  3. 3. The Impact of Consumerization of IT on the Public 2 line operations. Government employees want to use their smartphones and tablets at work for business functions across all levels of government. This trend is only increasing for IT depart- ments, who are now looking at ways to safely and securely pro- vide the infrastructure needed to support the consumerization of IT. The Digital Government Strat- egy, which was released in Au- gust of 2012, advises agencies to safely and securely adopt mobile technology. Federal Chief Infor- mation Officer StevenVanRoekel unveiled his vision for Digital Government, and one of the key mandates was the ability for gov- ernment workers to be able to work anywhere, anytime, and on any device.The mandate is a lofty goal considering the enormous challenge of securing, managing and protecting consumer devices he consumerization of IT is a trend that has not been taken lightly within government. With the speed at which technology changes, new devices, strategies and technologies have emerged in the workplace. For instance, a computer in the early 1970s was a device that could fill an entire office. Today, 130 million Ameri- cans carry around smartphones with the same or greater com- puting power of a 1970s com- puter in their pockets. Not sur- prisingly, those same 130 million Americans want to bring those devices to work and access re- sources anytime, anywhere. Not only have these new tools sparked interest in transform- ing the way society engages and communicates, government agencies are seeking to leverage emerging devices for new busi- ness efficiencies and to stream- The Impact of Consumerization of IT on the Public Sector in the workplace, but the Digital Government Strategy is an im- portant step forward to encour- age federal agencies to imple- ment emerging technologies. In light of policy shifts like the Digital Government Strategy, agencies are asking: how do we implement these changes me- thodically and responsibly, and how will the consumerization of IT continue to affect agencies go- ing forward? In this report, Bruce Michelson, a Distinguished Technologist at HP, will explore the changing IT land- scape, offer insights on how the consumerization of IT is forcing agencies to consider Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and ex- plain how mobility is transform- ing the public sector.
  4. 4. HP Industry Perspective http://government.hp.com3 In many ways, the definition of consumerization of IT parallels that of a Rorschach test - everybody sees the ink blots in a different context. In this re- port, Michelson defines the consumerization of IT as “getting the back office IT infrastructure pre- pared to be device-agnostic.”The goal is simple, or- ganizations need to provide access to the end user in a safe, secure, networked way. Michelson adds that, “what defines consumerization is not BYOD or mobility, but building an infrastructure that can support BYOD or mobility.” What is Consumerization of IT? 3 Opportunities with Consumerization of IT “Thirty percent of people check their work email before they go to sleep at night. A typical Facebook user looks at Facebook no less than 14 times a day,” notes Michelson. These statistics show that the consumerization of IT is happening whether organizations are ready or not. As a result, organi- zations must adapt and prepare for this new reality. This is not just because of perceived risks, but also because there are noteworthy benefits that they will want to leverage for business improvement. Below are three opportunities that consumeriza- tion of IT presents for agencies. Cultural Impact Budget cuts, pay freezes, and sequestration have driven overall government employee satisfaction to record lows.The Office of Personnel Management’s annual Federal Viewpoint Survey found employee satisfaction down five percent in the past year. One way agencies have proven to boost morale is to in- tegrate the consumerization of IT. Michelson adds, “The perception that the end users get to choose their own device, get to be agile, and get to use cool technologies shouldn’t be underestimated.” When so much of what is happening in agencies these days feels as if it is out of an employee’s con- trol, enabling personnel to select the kind of device that makes them most comfortable and productive goes a long way toward improving morale and mis- sion achievement. The agencies that scored the highest on the survey, NASA and the State Department, both integrate tablets and smartphones into their agency culture. The ability to integrate these new technologies gives employees a feeling of empowerment and in- novation.According to the survey, only 31% of fed- eral employees felt empowered to be innovative at their agency, while respondents from NASA scored over 70%. The cultural impact of these devices can- not be overlooked. Access - Work on the Go! Field workers have often been saddled with cum- bersome paper files and limited access to agency data. The emergence of mobile devices enables gov- ernment employees to stay connected anywhere. Take the Air Force, for example. Last year they pur- chased 18,000 tablets to replace heavy flight bags with light and efficient tablets.The flight bags often weighed more than 40 pounds and contained the flight plan and other navigational materials. Now all of the flight plan information is condensed into one device, and can be easily accessed by Air Force personnel. Agility The Census Bureau is one of the most diverse and field-driven agencies in the government. Now they are trying to connect their employees and the pub- lic using tablets. The goal is to become more effi- cient in collecting Census data. Census is develop-
  5. 5. The Impact of Consumerization of IT on the Public 4 3 Core Challenges Presented by the Consumerization of IT One of the things forcing the consumerization of IT is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). GovLoop’s recent guide, Exploring the Role of BringYour Own De- vice in the Public Sector, found that over 40% of feds use their personal phones to access their work email. That number is staggering since just a few years ago most people wouldn’t have predicted this ing new mobile applications so fieldworkers can use tablets to collect information instead of filing tedious paperwork. That is a new level of agility for the agency, and will improve reporting accuracy and efficiency. Michelson says this kind of agility is key because then, “IT is not seen as an inhibitor, but as an enabler.” Those are three good reasons to welcome the consumerization of IT; however, moving to these innovative technologies does present risks. Three risks are identified below. would ever happen because of security and manage- ment issues.Michelson says the typical end user,“will access the IT infrastructure from four to five differ- ent devices.” This has led to many challenges for government agencies. Michelson noted that a lot of agencies ‘just say no’ to consumerization of IT. The problem is that,“saying no doesn’t work because people will do it anyway.” Rather than not allowing it, the best pos- ture for an agency is to learn about resource needs and current behavior,then adjust policies to account for this impact on the workplace without compro- mising security. That’s why it is important to identify the potentials risks and build policies that address them in advance. Michelson suggested that there are three core challenges: cybersecurity, data secu- rity and an undefined legal environment. Cyber Security One of the core challenges for IT profession- als related to BYOD is retaining security. Agen- cies are challenged to retain security because, in many instances, technology has outpaced security and governance policies by leaps and bounds. Gov- Loop conducted a survey of feds who use BYOD and found that 80% of respondents did not have a formal BYOD program at their agency. This trend cannot be overlooked and Michelson says the pri- mary mission of IT is still governance. “You can’t sacrifice governance because of an indiscrete trend, you have to find ways to embrace it.” He continues, “We are still managing from a governance policy process procedure acquisition standpoint. Which means that we are managing devices that didn’t ex- ist five years ago the same way we manage desk- tops and laptops. So there is no wonder there are so many security breaches.” Evidence that security is a core challenge for gov- ernment is easy to find.The Government Account-
  6. 6. HP Industry Perspective http://government.hp.com5 ability Office estimated that cyber attacks on agen- cies were up a staggering 782%. “All you have to do is look at the headlines to know that government agencies have been targeted by hacktivists.The only answer is to step up our investment in governance,” states Michelson. The Obama administration has taken note of the risks to cyber security, releasing an Executive Or- der – Improving Critical Infrastructure Cyberse- curity. The February Executive Order called for an increased level of collaboration between the pub- lic and private sectors. Another option to mitigate risks is implementing tiered service levels.The tiered service level security system means different people have different levels of access on devices. For ex- ample a senior executive may be able to download financial information to a tablet, while entry-level employees could simply access their email.Addition- ally, a tiered approach is in response to the ineffec- tive ‘one-size-fits-all’ security approach. Michelson states,“It used to be thought that one size standard- ization across an entire enterprise was the best deal according to the cost-risk analysis. Now it’s really user segmentation. It is alignment of devices, costs, risks and service level. Michelson stresses that this is a shift in both practice and culture.“Everything we’ve been taught about IT is standardization, standardization, standardization. Now we’re being asked to do just the opposite.Now we’re being asked to take risks and to do things that aren’t in our DNA and from us in IT, it’s an extraor- dinarily uncomfortable scenario but it’s one we’ve got to get our arms around and move forward.” Although cyber risks are a reality, agencies cannot adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards personal devices in the workplace. There are many benefits to implementing BYOD, and defining proper gover- nance policies is one way to protect against this risk. Data Security In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs filed 2.7 million medical claims. In April, the laptop of one VA employee was stolen which compromised the security of 7,000 Veterans waiting on disabil- ity claims. One laptop equaled 7,000 security risks. However, the risks don’t seem to be stopping the desire for devices. Michelson notes that the very devices from which people have their identity sto- len are the ones that want to bring them to work. So how do you protect the data while still ensur- ing accessibility? “BYOD is a lot more complicated than just taking the buzzwords and ‘make it so’, as Captain Picard would say. It’s about building an in- frastructure.” Of course, the VA is not alone when it comes to agencies keeping track of their devices: 113 cellphones go missing ev- ery minute and 25% of smart phones are lost or broken and need a replacement every 12 months113 Two million laptops get lost or go missing get at TSA stations and 97% of them are never re- covered2M 56% of us on a monthly basis call our cells to figure out where we put our cell phones at home 56% The key to perfecting an organization’s infrastruc- ture is to prepare a short and long term ecosys- tem. Michelson notes, “eco-systems are based
  7. 7. The Impact of Consumerization of IT on the Public 6 Michelson adds that the officers were given corpo- rate-issued mobile devices, which basically means that they were on call 24/7. Now the question is: does that qualify for overtime? This question is one of many in a rapidly developing legal environment. For government agencies, they must be cautious of the shifting legal landscape, and understand the legal risks while implementing any kind of initiative created from the consumerization of IT. The Future of Consumerization The pace of technology is staggeringly fast and there is no indication that it will slow down any- time soon, so predicting the future is murky at best. However, Michelson says,“Organizations are taking a pause right now to reassess. There is more of a holistic rush to build the backend infrastructure because people have seen enough about BYOD and consumerization to know that the old rules simply won’t apply to the new technology.” The trend of consumerization of IT is unlikely to go away, and agencies must be ready and create infra- structures that are device, service, and tool agnos- tic.In doing so,agencies can leverage emerging con- sumer technology to facilitate increased employee engagement, new found business efficiencies, and create a modern and agile government infrastruc- ture. upon what is required for a specific technology, not focused necessarily on the business as a whole.” When looking at an eco-system these might be logical questions to ask: What is the full investment required? Michelson says, “Right now BYOD is not a cost saver. De- vices at this point are companion pieces, so you have to factor in the cost of the device, the cost to secure it, govern it and exploit it.” How long is this eco-system relevant? Eco-systems need to have the same level of con- trol that corporate owned devices have today. Having an end user become a focal point for governance seems to be an element worthy of discussion. Can the eco-system leverage existing invest- ments? An Undefined Legal Environment If you are accessible anytime, anywhere on any de- vice – do you get overtime if you answer emails at 10 pm? There is a fascinating case right now in Chicago that addresses this very issue. Chicago po- lice Sgt. Jeffrey Allen filed a lawsuit in 2010 claiming that the city owes him and fellow officers overtime pay for work performed on department BlackBerry phones. The city gaveAllen a BlackBerry when he worked in a unit determining which assets of criminal’s police could seize. Susan Prince, an attorney with Business and Legal Resources, says the deciding factor in this dispute is likely to be the Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs wage and overtime provisions for American workers.
  8. 8. The Impact of Consumerization of IT on the Public 7 About GovLoop GovLoop’s mission is to “connect government to improve government.” We aim to inspire public sec- tor professionals by serving as the knowledge net- work for government. GovLoop connects more than 65,000 members, fostering cross-government collaboration, solving common problems and ad- vancing government careers. GovLoop is headquar- tered in Washington D.C. with a team of dedicated professionals who share a commitment to connect and improve government. For more information about this report, please reach out to Emily Jarvis, Online Editor, GovLoop, at, or follow her on twitter: @ emichellejarvis. GovLoop
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