‘Bring your own device’ on the rise around the globe, says Microsoft GM

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Whether in the state of Washington, or in China, Taiwan or Australia, government workers using their own smart phones on the job is on the rise, according to Joel Cherkis, general manager of Microsoft’s worldwide public sector business.

"We see the model of the ‘bring your own device’ [BYOD] concept [used] heavily within governments around the world," said Cherkis this week via phone, discussing his upcoming keynote address on March 28 at the Mobile Government Forum in Sacramento, Calif.

Cherkis, pictured at left, who routinely travels abroad for work, says that significant technology investments are being made by government organizations to implement BYOD policies, despite such challenges related to security, governance and sometimes even politics.

After 20 years of working in the public-sector technology industry, Cherkis says we are still at the "front end" of a long journey that includes fast changing technologies driven by the consumer market, in large part because those who work in government are consumers when they leave at the end of the day.

Cherkis also emphasized using mobile technology to promote citizen engagement and enable leaders in government. For government leaders, the ability to access accurate and timely information using a mobile device, with a dashboard or scorecard app, is critical for making decisions quickly.

Citizen engagement is a top priority for many governments, including the state of California.   Cherkis said that citizens expect to reach their government from anywhere, at anytime. He used an example of his home state of Washington where, if you want to launch your boat from a public ramp, there is a mobile app that allows boaters to buy a license without having to visit the agency in person.

Another example given was Sacramento Regional Transit’s mobile app that tells bus riders where the closest bus stop is and when the next bus will arrive. The app, developed by Kiefer Consulting, also includes images that show the user what it looks like from the view of the bus rider.

"These type of apps are of great interest to people who want to use public transportation," said Cherkis.  "They are also of great interest to organizations who want to get people to use public transportation.  Organizations that are focused on greener or more sustainable types of environments."

Bill Maile was editor of Techwire from 2011 to 2016.