With ever-increasing cost pressures on the public purse, the need to reduce government spending, as always, remains a priority, and the optimisation of real estate is a key focus area for many departments
To gain confidence that office footprint can be better utilised, tomorrow’s public-sector workplace will need to offer both employees and the public significant improvements in flexibility and usability, without compromising security. Public-sector workers will need the capabilities to do their jobs, wherever they are wokring — and then some.
- Flexibility today involves equipping employees to work remotely — whether from home, on the road or from anywhere (and any time) they choose — while giving them access to all the resources of the physical workplace. In this way, the mobile workforce can become productive and cost-effective
- Usability in this context means providing fast, flexible and highly responsive mobile devices. It also means having real-time visibility into device performance. Modern end-user monitoring tools can provide rich information about the performance of mobile devices, allowing the organisation to continually calibrate and improve performance.
- Usability also means delivering applications to both staff members and the public that are intuitive, information-rich and easy to use. A consistently superior user experience (UX) also means harvesting meaningful data from deep within the organisation and presenting it to the user at the right time and place. For example, a front-line worker arriving at a particular location could receive information specific to that place.
The New Challenge: Security
At the same time, public-sector organisations need to protect the public’s many levels of sensitive data. Therefore, any workplace solution must provide the very highest levels of security. However, this level of security must also fully support the user’s working conditions.
Contextual information that can now be collected from mobile devices can be used to enforce conditional security and permit access. For example, we wouldn’t want an employee visiting a pub in Soho on a Saturday evening accessing David Beckham’s tax records!
Balance is needed to combine these capabilities in ways that empower staff, serve the public well, protect the security of vital data and systems — and do all of the above without slowing systems or degrading the overall UX.
Balancing these often-conflicting capabilities will be the key to true organisational mobilisation. For example, the temptation to collect ever deeper, live performance data from devices should be offset by the appreciation that this can divert valuable resources from the UX.
A Vision for the Future
I believe the public-sector workplace of the future will feature new forms of service management that can detect — and fix — system faults and problems before they occur.
This new style of proactive management of devices will shrink the role of the IT services provider. It will also bring closer together users and device manufacturers, significantly reducing IT service-management overhead.
In addition, large government workplaces in the future will no longer work around information silos. Instead, they’ll offer improved self-learning knowledge management solutions. These solutions will be equipped with simple natural-language search capabilities, which will be intuitively and contextually accessible to all users. This will help staff immediately resolve issues while also automating logging of incidents, leading to a more satisfying UX for everyone.
Public-sector organisations that successfully apply controls such as conditional security, and that deliver modern device-management in innovative, cost-effective ways will deliver a consumer-like experience with government-level security. This level of secure service will provide the user with a familiar experience, untether them from fixed working locations and provide opportunities for optimising office space.
Adrian Smart is client relationship executive for UK government sales and client engagement at CSC.