mobile user (Monkey Business Images/


How mobility can help drive IT modernization

Through the first half of 2019, I’ve participated in countless discussions with industry peers and technology executives on the topic of mobility in the public sector.

Mobility was one of the hottest topics at the AWS Public Sector Summit in early June. Air Force Maj. Gen. Cedric D. George, for example, discussed the changing nature of how and where real mission work is done. In another session, a panel of state and federal leaders described how their agencies are thinking differently about digital transformation.

Why all the buzz about mobility?

First off, like the private sector, public-sector work is not always conducted at the office or during traditional business hours. Mobility also is intricately tied to another ongoing trend: the changing landscape of the workforce. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that as a whole, public-sector employees are older than their private-sector counterparts. Even in 2017, a Politico analysis found that “just 17 percent of workers are under 35 years old,” and “more than a quarter of federal employees are now older than 55.”

As public-sector agencies look to bring on younger employees, they’re facing more competition than ever from the private sector, particularly from Silicon Valley-based technology giants. Today’s employees, no matter the sector in which they work, want to be able to work anywhere and anytime from any device. While these desires are reasonable, public-sector security continues to be a major challenge. How can agencies meet staff needs and also ensure adherence to strict security policies?

Agencies today must provide an employee experience that their younger workforce demands, while also meeting the needs of existing workers and agency security policies. Here are three critical technologies that can help agencies achieve their goals of modernizing the public-sector employee mobility experience.

1. Enterprise mobility management. Agencies should first invest in an enterprise mobility management system. Today’s employees expect a mobile solution that allows them to use the same device for work and pleasure. Technology must allow for seamless integration of apps and services, to the point where users can move from responding to corporate email to playing their newest favorite game on the same device either in the office, at home or while boarding a plane. The public sector has lagged behind the private sector in adopting mobile device management and enterprise mobility management solutions, but it is finally beginning to break down the barriers between work devices and personal devices. 

2. Federated identity management. Industry has also recognized the need to adopt identity-based management systems that provide ease-of-use for users and increase the security of each application. Federated identity management allows users to have one digital identity, which is then connected to each of the applications and services they access to successfully do their job. By understanding users on an individual level, agencies can deliver a unique set of applications and services tailored to each user’s role, while also increasing the security of that device. Federated identity management helps agencies save time, streamline data and enable security -- which serves both the end-user and the IT department. 

3. Management information system. Enterprise mobility management and federated identity management are important, but a modern management information system placed on top of the technology stack might be the most critical component. This solution allows agencies to measure how employees use their devices and applications and therefore manage resources accordingly. There are countless reasons to deploy an MIS, but consider these three:

  • Deliver the right OS: The days of requiring workers to use a single mobile operating system are over. Employees expect a consistent experience across devices and across operating systems.
  • Ensure compliance: Managing the people, processes and technology on any device allows IT teams to meet stringent agency compliance policies.
  • Manage licenses: Software contracts are often based on a number of licenses, but as employees’ needs evolve over time, agencies must evaluate how many licenses are actually in use so contracts can be right-sized and cost savings can be realized

Enterprise mobility management, federated identity management and management information systems all provide operational efficiencies, which allow for future growth and enable customization of services for a secure, consistent experience across the workforce. As agencies shift to innovative, cloud-based platforms, they will be able to migrate from legacy solutions at scale to deliver flexible, personalized mobility to the workforce. In doing so, they will be able to attract and retain younger talent while meeting the needs of increased security and management of critical data.

About the Author

Bill Rowan is vice president of Cloud and Virtualization for VMware Public Sector.

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