IBM take on BYOD

June 2, 2012

A really insightful piece in the MIT Technology Review of 21 May 2012 entitled ‘IBM Faces the Perils of “Bring Your Own Device”‘ by Brian Bergstein should be compulsory reading for all those considering a BYOD approach. Encouraging staff to use their own PC’s or ‘phones was originally seen by some beancounters and bosses as a way of reducing capital expenditure. It also permitted those same bosses to play with the latest toys without being seen to be affect the procurement policy. IBM have recognised the potential pitfalls.

To prevent issues many organizations allowing BYOD install a ‘sandbox’ to prevent incursion into their secure networks. IBM has gone a little further and some of the measures include:

  • barring various apps including Dropbox
  • configuring devices so that they can be wiped remotely if lost
  • disable public file transfer apps

Unfortunately. as those in government immediately identified, it caused problems with the security policy. If, as in the UK, one had to pay regard to the CESG guidelines, one was immediately contravening them. In the private sector there is less compulsion to honour the ‘spooks’ but there are still best practice guidelines to adhere to. IBM’s CIO feels they are being conservative in theeir measures, I believe they are just taking care of IBM’s data.

If this was the public sector, these should be average measures, especially when one considers the size of the Information Commissioner’s fines these days. So, taking into account the costs of securing personal devices, is it any cheaper to permit them and lock them down?


Evaluating citizen participation

February 7, 2012

One of the major difficulties accepted in the discussions around citizen participation was how do we measure it. This was presented more recently in the post ‘Participating in a Democracy’. Whilst being fully referenced and including her a new paper from the IBM Center for The Business of Government probably owes a great deal to the late Sherry Arnstein’s work on the Ladder of Democracy.

The paper entitled ‘A Managers Guide to Evaluating Citizen Participation’ (56 pages, 2.6Mb) is written by Tina Nabatchi of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs focuses on revising a modified version of the Ladder of Participation that was published in 2007 as the ‘IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation’. The paper clearly identifies that there are no easy routes to evaluation and the methods outlined require time and effort tu fulfill and although there are mentions of using new media to consult there are no solutions as to measuring with them. In fact the one clear link to anything electronic from the White House website is to the proclamation that protects personal data.

However, as I’ve stated, the big thing is to get participation right, then e-participation will come naturally (with trust), so this is a good start.

Be my muse

April 8, 2010

It didn’t take long! Ann Macintosh and colleagues beaver away at software to analyse social media for insights that might influence government policy, and now Big Blue (aka IBM) have developed a tool to suggest blog topics to writers from their potential readership…

No, I’m not making it up! The MIT Technology Review doesn’t normally run to the wacky stories sometimes found in The Register. In the 9 March 2010 edition was a story by Erica Naone entitled “Software tells Bloggers What Readers Want“. The results are even due to be presented at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

So, if the muse has left you and you are feeling bereft of words, always remember It’s Better Manually and buy Blog Muse!

It may sometimes appear that I have a slightly negative approach to the government use of social media, to disabuse such rumours I am presenting a paper next week at Ethicomp 2010 on its use in academic research into information systems. To further put off such rumours I would like to point out the excellent set of resources on Gov 2.0 Steve Radick has posted in Australia. In the way of the Internet, I was made aware of this by Jacques Raybaut who runs the useful en.europa-eu-audience news broadcast.

Smarter public services

February 25, 2010

Imagine my surprise at opening the latest New Statesman, 22 February 2010, and finding an advertisement for ‘Big Blue’ i.e. IBM, entitled “Smarter public services for a smarter planet.” I can’t imagine why IBM are targeting left-of-centre politicians, perhaps a rare breed in the 21st century?

Included on the advertisement  from IBM is a link to a website where there is a PDF of a report entitled “IBM’s response to “Digital Britain – Online Public Services are a proxy for Digital Britain” dated March 2009, promoting amongst other things, the South West One partnership that has suffered a few problems to date, as reported by Computer Weekly and others. Having been involved in a complex public- private partnership myself they have my sympathy, but isn’t it too early to crow?

In general, however, the eight-page report is pretty sensible including the statement – “Apply the 80/20 rule: build for 80% of the customer circumstances and ignore the minority of exceptions that create disproportionate complexity and cost. Target services and educate customers to minimise the likelihood of exceptions occurring. Handle exceptions through appropriate existing off-line channels.”

It appears we are starting to learn and that electronic channels aren’t the answer for everything and will have to retain the others for those who will not or cannot use them, or for the inappropriate services.

The topic of e-government and partnerships was one covered by my academic acquaintance Paul Henman in his 2004 paper: Henman, P. (2004). “E-government and the Electronic Transformation of Modes of Rule: The Case of Partnerships.” Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics 2(2): 19-24. where he concludes that “Partnerships require a lot of organisational, relationship and technical work to establish and maintain. They require that all partners continue to extract mutual benefits from the partnership and maintain levels of trust. As such partnerships constantly need to be made and re-made.” So remember as well, it’s not all down to ICT!

Analysis paralysis

August 26, 2009

An interesting feature on the Register. IBM are offering less-well-off (the report used the term threadbare) councils off-the-peg data analysis. John Ozimek, the author, reviewing the history of similar approaches, gets my support for his challenging comment that:

“Without exception, evaluation of ratepayer/customer satisfaction was carried out on the basis of how far these schemes met internally set targets, as opposed to actual customer needs. The danger, therefore, of the IBM initiative is that it will provide the Public Sector with a formidable array of tools that will enable them to grapple with their client base more efficiently – but unless this is accomplished by a change in overall culture, they will not do so more effectively.”

Also, I suspect that in the time-honoured fashion that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”, IBM will be expecting to sell a shed load of disk space to store all this data upon!

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