Conferencing apps keep road warriors at home

The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on mobile and remote-computing trends is based on telephone interviews with 100 government GCN readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves as IT or systems managers.

Many agencies use mobile and remote-computing technologies, but government IT managers are concerned about their security, a GCN telephone survey found.

Nearly half of the managers we talked with worried about notebook PC security.

'With bank examiners dialing in confidential information, the security of information in a notebook PC becomes the biggest challenge,' a Treasury Department computer specialist in Washington said.

'The biggest issue is the security of data on mobile laptops,' said a NASA computer specialist at Moffett Field, Calif.

Sixty percent of survey participants said they use notebook PCs for business travel or working off-site. Most of those machines'93 percent'are agency-provided.

Only a third of managers who tote handheld PCs or personal digital assistants use them for remote computing.

The high cost of mobile technologies also was a factor for many. 'Getting everyone a mobile computer who needs it is an issue,' said an Air Force procurement administrator at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.

'Not everybody who could benefit from it has it, mainly because of cost,' said a Customs Service IT specialist in Washington.

Training and supporting users, and keeping up with mobile technologies, also was a challenge, some survey participants said.

'The biggest issue is providing IT support to mobile clients,' said a Federal Reserve Board senior information-systems analyst in Washington.

'Mobile computing technologies get out of date very quickly,' said a Marine Corps senior computer engineer at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

For a Veterans Affairs Department computer specialist in Austin, Texas, 'getting management to get current with the technology' was the biggest obstacle.

Others questioned the necessity for mobile computing devices at their agencies.

'Do we really need it? Is it worth the expense?' a New York City Transit IT manager in Brooklyn asked rhetorically.

Survey participants said their agencies use other technologies that facilitate communications among employees, such as virtual-meetings technologies.

A surprising 63 percent of managers in the survey said their agencies use videoconferencing systems, 83 percent of them noting that video reduced the need for travel.

Forty percent said their agencies have used Web conferencing technologies and nearly half'48 percent'said technology was a factor in reducing the need for employees to hit the road.


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