As we celebrate the arrival of 2014, new tech devices received during the holidays are all the rage.  At the same time, it’s important to remember that these devices are heading to work.  Last year, mobile devices drove more than 17 percent of the 2013 holiday season spend – an increase of about 12 percent from 2012.  And, in their annual holiday forecast, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) predicted that tablets would top gift wish lists for adults.  In early 2014, many of these new tech items will head straight for offices and in many cases, government agencies – creating a tough first few days back on the job for IT managers.

January is a time for employees with new tablets, smartphones, and laptops to quickly leverage their new devices to improve workplace efficiency.  And, as in the private sector, government agencies will undoubtedly feel the surge in new devices this winter.  Whether they’re being used for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) or telework, it’s imperative for IT teams to first clearly communicate the necessary policies and guidelines, and then equip themselves with comprehensive mobile device management (MDM) technology to support the programs.

There are several key elements to a comprehensive mobility policy.  Agencies must first define what BYOD and using personal mobile devices can mean for the agency and the employee, clearly outlining the benefits and considerations.  Next, agencies must outline mobility security guidelines to ensure uniform compliance.  Also critical is outlining the new responsibilities that each employee will need to accept to participate in the mobility program.  Finally, agencies should focus on providing training that shows employees how to access the tools and solutions they need on their mobile devices to foster enhanced productivity.

Once the policy is defined, firmly in place, and conveyed to employees, agencies need to focus on laying the technical foundation to support it.  Through their telework policies, many agencies enable employees to access resources remotely either from personal Wi-Fi or 4G connections.  This “bring-your-own-network” approach to telework, coupled with solutions that limit data exposure, ensure that all data stays secure in the government data center while allowing employees to use their personal devices to work anytime, anywhere.  Supporting this, Citrix XenApp enables any Windows application to be virtualized, centralized, and managed in the data center and instantly delivered to any user device.  Citrix XenApp controls and encrypts access to data and applications, ensuring security of all data.

Agencies need to have the proper technology in place to fully harness the power of BYOD with employees’ new devices.  And a solution such as MDM is imperative.  Whether it is to support the latest tablet, a new smartphone, or a laptop/tablet duo, Citrix XenMobile Enterprise Edition brings the first holistic approach to mobile management, enabling users to use any device, any app, and access their e-mail and documents from anywhere, at any time.  XenMobile also meets IT’s mandated security requirements and utilizes powerful analytics that enable administrators to audit devices, applications, and network access – giving IT full control of all devices.

As I mentioned previously, the most important first step to empowering employees to use personal devices for professional productivity is to clearly communicate the policies, then deploy the IT infrastructure to support those policies.  This will help to ensure employees are connecting securely from their new devices in and outside of the office walls.  And, as 2014 will continue to bring upgrades, new software to devices, and new models, Citrix and our team are ready to ensure that our government partners are equipped with the solutions they need for devices to connect and operate securely, ensuring user friendly delivery of all information.  If you have any questions about our solutions, please feel free to drop me a line at tom [dot] simmons [at] citrix [dot] com.