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How To Forget BYOD and Still Be Loved By Your Clients

By Andrea Di Maio | October 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

smart government

A few days ago I gave a presentation about the future of government CIOs to the IT and business staff of a local government in the Netherlands. This is a rather affluent city, and one of the happy few that – thanks to its location and tax revenues – does not seem to have any imminent financial worry, unlike so many others in Europe. We chatted about shared services, as they are considering to partner with other cities for some of their IT services, as well as about social media, open data, civic engagement, apps and more. I had quite a few enjoyable conversations with people there, but one in particular struck a chord with me.

At a moment in time where Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) is a mouthful and many people ask themselves how to support the increasing demand from their workforce to use consumer-grade devices and applications to do their job, this CIO gave me a glimpse of reality, which I believe does apply to many government organizations around the world.

The average age for their workforce is above 45 and while this is better than some other organizations, it is hard to see too many “digital natives” there (although, in all fairness, they seem to be doing quite interesting things with smartphone apps). The CIO told me that in a place where change is really unnecessary (as I said, things are going ok, and their is no immediate disruption or inflection point in sight), he has to be a driver of change and almost impose his clients the move to new tools or new versions of tools they are perfectly comfortable with.

The tactics he is using is brilliant. Let’s take as an example how he moved his user base to new versions of Office. Had he planned a traditional roll-out, he would have faced complaints, training costs and surging traffic to the helpdesk. What he did instead was to provide all employees with the next of Office at Christmas time, as a gift from the employer to its employees, to install on their home computers and to play with. After six months what happened was that those same users came to him to beg for an upgrade of their Office version at work and, by then, they have already learned how to use it.

So by spending a few extra euro on additional licenses for home use, he has been saving a lot on training and support costs. And he has been doing so for years now.

While this cannot be generalized to any sort of change or technology innovation, it is a pretty smart way of doing things.

In our definition smart government is about being affordable and sustainable and it is about crossing traditional boundaries. This is a great example: it is something that the city could afford for a small extra cost, it is a sustainable model as it reduces rather than increase support costs and TCO, and crosses the boundary between professional and personal use.

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