NSW Business Chamber: Flexible but firm
Of course, not every organisation has the resources of IBM and can build its own app store that’s accessible from practically anywhere on the globe.
The NSW Business Chamber, for example, is a not-for-profit organisation that provides a range of business consulting services in areas such as human resources, marketing and legal, to assist Australian businesses manage their workers and growth more effectively.
The organisation has about 6000 full members and 20,000 associate members, ranging from small businesses requiring day-to-day operational support with HR, industrial relations and OHS issues, to large multinational corporations operating in Australia.
NSW Business Chamber CIO, Karen Scott Davie,supports 400 staff in 27 offices across the state, most of whom are out of the office more often than they’re in.
“About 60 per cent of our staff is always on the road, so achieving total mobility for our workforce is one of our big goals this year,” she says.
At the NSW Chamber, mobility is a mix; at the executive level there are a few iPads, but most mobile work is accomplished using a combination of lightweight Lenovo laptops and HTC smartphones, which were vetted by the IT department.
“We picked these models over the iPhone and others because initially you couldn’t easily wipe iPhones and iPads like you can now,” Scott Davie says.
“We keep member data in our CRM system, which must be kept secure and is hosted internally for that reason. But we also have 27 regional offices, so we have to share that information across the Internet to give our people access. We chose mobile phones that would allow us to limit who has access to that information and, should one of those devices go missing, enable us to lock it down and wipe remotely within a minute.”
When most of your workforce might be in the office for just an hour a day, the need to access to e-mail and important documents is pretty self-evident, so Scott Davie says making a business case for mobility wasn’t terribly difficult. Securing the devices, however, is more of challenge.
Scott Davie, a member of the CIO Executive Council, approaches the issue from several angles and has worked hard to strike a balance between mobility, productivity and security. Given the sensitive information the Chamber holds about the firms it works with, the organisation simply cannot afford to lose the confidence of its members. As a result, Scott Davie’s mobile policies are flexible in some areas of the business, while rigidly strict in others.
In forming her mobility policies, Scott Davie found guidance in the ideas of ‘radical transparency’ articulated by Dr Michael Nelson, visiting professor of internet studies at Georgetown University in the US and self-described ‘future-maker’, who advised Barack Obama on technology during the 2008 presidential campaign. But make no mistake, Scott Davie also runs a very tight ship.
Each Tuesday, staff must reread the organisation’s terms and conditions of use and sign them to acknowledge their acceptance. Failure to adhere to the guidelines laid down by the terms is grounds for dismissal, and the CIO is not afraid to enforce them.
It’s not threats, however, which keep the Chamber’s employees in line. Instead, a strong focus on education and encouraging employee awareness about data loss issues underpins Scott Davie’s efforts in the mobility area.
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