Agencies discuss embracing BYOD at GovComm 2011

3rd November, 2011 - Posted by Kourtney Wooten - No Comments

As we discussed in a post on Friday, this week Polycom is on tour, hitting up three government-focused tradeshows in five days. The schedule had us in Florida for the National Guard’s annual Joint C4I Conference and we’re currently in the Nation’s Capital for GovComm 2011, a show that is designed to highlight the cutting-edge communication and collaboration technologies available to the government today.

The Polycom team’s own Sean Lessman delivered the keynote speech on Unified Communications in the federal government yesterday, and we’ve had some interesting conversations with government decision makers during the hours since.

In our conversations with government IT purchasers and managers at the booth, we keep hearing about mobility and tablet computers and their standing in federal agencies. Originally, government agencies liked to keep their networks locked down and airtight, with complete control of everything in the enterprise that accessed the network.

However, over time, agencies began to notice more and more government employees looking to bring the tablet computers and mobile devices that they used in their own personal lives into the workplace environment. Ultimately, as the lines between work and life began to blur, employees were demanding to be able to access the same technologies within the office as they did at home.

This phenomenon known as “BYOD” or “bring your own device,” is historically something that would have been torpedoed immediately by government agencies. However, some things have happened recently that made agencies reevaluate their stance on BYOD: the economic downturn and federal budget crisis.

Many government IT people are looking at their budgets and trying to find ways to implement the newest technologies that will drive increased operational effectiveness and efficiency in their agency without breaking the bank. Essentially, they need to do much more with far less. Government employees willing to use their own tablet computers and mobile devices enabled these IT departments to implement these technologies without having to pay for them.

However, the use of personal tablet computers and mobile devices creates a small problem for government agencies. To take full advantage of these mobile devices and implement the cost-saving and productivity-increasing solutions they enable, such as mobile video communication, they need disparate platforms and operating systems to interoperate. Not all government employees are going to own the same tablet computer, and they will all need to work together if they’re going to be utilized by the agency.

This is why the Polycom® RealPresence Mobile solution has been such a topic of conversation at this year’s GovComm. RealPresence Mobile allows users of disparate tablet computers to still have HD video conversations. It also allows them to have video communication with users of other enterprise video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions, such as desktop or room-based VTC solutions.

Agencies are looking at RealPresence Mobile as an application that can tie all of the disparate tablet computers and other mobile devices together. By enabling video communication between these devices, government employees can work from anywhere and in the way that best suits them without sacrificing communication and collaboration within and between agencies.

Based on our conversations with IT decision makers at GovComm 2011, it sounds like the days of limiting the way people work, and therefore limiting their productivity, are in the past. BYOD isn’t the bad word it used to be in agencies. Instead of fighting a losing battle against the influx of outside devices, agencies are instead embracing the chaos as a way to stretch their tight budgets and drive cost savings and productivity increases. And applications like RealPresence Mobile are making it possible.

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