Bring your own device (BYOD) set to grow in local public services: Socitm

The trend to ‘bring your own device’, whereby employees can connect their own smartphones, tablets, laptops or other computers to their employer’s IT networks, is set to continue in local public services says Socitm, despite the fact that central government regulations, in particular in connection to the Public Sector Network (PSN) are wary of this development. Globally, many organisations in the private and public sectors are deploying Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions to securely enable BYOD.

While discussions continue between Socitm, the Local Government Association and the Cabinet Office on BYOD and other PSN connection issues, Socitm has published a new report that explains the drivers for BYOD and sets out details of the associated risks and benefits.

‘A balancing act: current approaches to BYOD in local public services’ says that the consumerisation of ICT has created employee demand to use their own (often superior) technology for work.

At the same time austerity is requiring organisations to maximize cost saving and efficiency and increase productivity. Advocates of BYOD argue that it makes employees happier and more productive, enables the cost savings of flexible working, and shifts the costs of acquisition and renewal of devices to employees.

A section of the report explains how the Cabinet Office’s current compliance requirements for connection to the Public Services Network (PSN) has created unintended consequences for councils wishing to exploit the benefits of BYOD.

The report points out that BYOD is not all bad for security, however: currently, networks are often compromised by users emailing work to their personal email accounts. By enabling BYOD, organisations could better manage this significant challenge to network security.

The report concludes that that BYOD is not a trend that is going to fade from fashion and says that every local public service organisation is going to need to work out its own solution, even if it means doing nothing for the time being. Any implementation of BYOD, irrespective of scope and scale, will need a BYOD policy, the suggested contents of which are set out in the report.

Individuals have become tech savvy and will look to circumvent ICT policies if they feel they are being hindered from doing their job,” says Martin Greenwood, programme manager for Socitm Insight. “Socitm benchmarking data shows a significant drop in user satisfaction with ICT services where restrictions on flexible practices like BYOD have been imposed to allow connection to the Public Services Network (PSN). Socitm is continuing to work with the Cabinet Office, its members and suppliers to resolve these obstacles to rapid adoption of BYOD by local public services.”

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