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The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement is taking hold in workplaces around the world, but some of my recent reading has led me to explore more deeply the impact of this trend on communication and security in the public sector.

An article in Forbes summed it up well: people rely more and more on smaller, mobile gadgets, and they’re using these devices to support telepresence and other collaboration tools to conduct work-related business. Though this embrace of BYOD (also called consumerization) means more flexibility to work from anywhere, more accessibility to coworkers and supervisors, and more opportunities for collaboration, it raises security concerns.

Despite these new worries, the worst mistake an organization can make, the Forbes article said, is not accepting and working to accommodate BYOD. Public sector organizations need strategies in place to support consumer grade and enterprise class devices that enable mobile collaboration. While necessary, these policies don’t always develop easily--accommodating consumerization while still protecting classified information can require an IT overhaul, writes ZDNet’s Dion Hinchcliffe.

According to Hinchcliffe, we are reaching a “tipping point” where IT will shift from controlling all things technology to instead enabling safe information exchange. It will no longer be about tying all devices to one network and governing that network, but rather organizing and managing the cloud and protecting that space from unwanted intrusions, he said.

With the right strategies and support systems in place to promote safe BYOD, organizations can maximize the benefit of technologies like telepresence. The military can safely give each soldier a Smartphone and know the video applications used on those devices can operate without risking national security. Doctors can see patients from their personal devices, saving late night trips to the hospital but still enabling proper, timely care.  And, professors can hold extra office hours, even telepresence-based, recordable review sessions without worrying about room availability or juggling schedules.

Does your organization support BYOD? What challenges does it bring up for you, and what solutions have you found?

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