August 2013

Bring Your Own Device…BYOD…. Potential e-Gov 3.0?

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Ashis Sanyal
Consulting Editor,
egov

Some of my corporate friends often book their business air tickets from their smartphone and also pay for their official expenses on line through the phone almost on regular basis. They explain to me that they can access their corporate financial system through personal phone and as they do that everything is hunky-dory after that! With lot of empathy in their eyes and voice they further elaborate to this former government employee that it will be soon order of the day when most of the enterprise business solutions would be accessed by employee’s own mobile device, be it a high-end smartphone, i-Pad or a Tablet and thereafter all the businesses would be carried out as usual by the corporate employee from their personal devices!
This is the recent advent of Bring Your Own Device, BYOD, another outcome of the perennial search by the Corporate CIOs for cost effective technology for enhanced employee productivity. Like many other innovations this has also come out as the necessity for the corporate world. The prime mover was how to connect all the mobile devices personally possessed by the employees with the corporate network and services which could positively impact productivity and cost saving. The process has started already as explained by my corporate fiends and a Gartner CIO survey conducted in 2012 predicted that by 2016 around 80% of corporate employees will be made eligible to use their own equipment with employee data and services hosted in the enterprise system.
We would like to examine and map the possible relevance of this new concept of BYOD in the governance eco-system. This exercise would be definitely useful as government has already decided to establish Mobile Service Delivery Gateway (MSDG) to enable citizen (including its employees of course) to seek and transact on various government services through mobile devices. It is a fact that today almost 99% of the government employees own a mobile phone. It is also a fact that use of mobile Internet has been recorded as the fastest growing area in India for the last few months and that day is not too far when the service providers would make mobile Internet service available at an affordable tariff simply due to economy of scale and competition and the entry level handsets would also support it. So there is a great possibility that every government employee can avail now at least some G2E services through personal mobile phone with some back-end technology integration required to provide such services from the government IT infrastructure.
There are of course many issues with deployment of BYOD in government eco-system. And interestingly these are no different from those being experienced now by the corporate world. In this era of cut-throat competition, to embrace BYOD the first and foremost issue before the corporate CIOs is how to secure and protect the business and employee data. Strong privacy laws prevalent in the western countries aggravated the situation. Moreover, it would be increasingly difficult to control and standardize the types of devices which an employee is going to use. Therefore ‘one size fits all’ will not work and deployment of BYOD would compulsorily necessitate designing the mobile business applications inter-operable for diverse devices. The model should ensure flexibility for the devices with increased productivity, reduced risks and adjusting access to information, based on the devices, the users’ privileges, their locations and the information they want to access. The BYOD-based services which are already in use through enterprise private cloud in many global companies are, speed dialer for one-click access to conference calls while on-the-move, event registration, instant messaging capabilities, accessing internal wikis, collaborating through social media tools, approving purchasing requests, software-based telephony using voice over IP technology and so on.
Do we see possibility of mapping the G2E services in a government Ministry or department to the BYOD-based corporate employee services cited above? In fact the work items of ‘personal’ and ‘establishment’ section of any government department would largely corroborate above-mentioned corporate situation. Before 2006, any DeitY official in Electronics Niketan had to make a round of the relevant section in personal or establishment division, to get any G2E informational service. After the DeitY Intranet was created, all required personal information was made accessible through the individual desktop of every official with a bit of authentication protocol. It would entail some more technology deployment to make such services available on individual’s mobile phone (BYOD) with adequate safeguard to protect interest of both the stakeholders, government and the employee.
Globally there is very little deployment of BYOD concept in government ecosystem. However, to address the issue of how to improve government employee productivity one can learn from the global corporate leader. In 2010, Intel embarked on BYOD globally, in its offices in 65 countries, covering around 23,500 devices (smart phones 90 percent, tablets 9 percent and PCs 1 percent ),inter-operable applications and service oriented architecture, which enabled every employee to save on average an hour daily, translating into a 38 percent increase in productivity in 2011 and an annual productivity gain of about 5 million hours globally in 2012 alone !

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