The popularity of bring your own device (BYOD) working practices is increasing to a dramatic extent and has even infiltrated the corridors of power at Westminster.
Some years ago, members of parliament and Lords requiring a mobile solution had to choose between a Blackberry or an outdated model of a smartphone. Joan Miller, director of Parliamentary Information and Communications Technology (PICT), said it was clear that people were choosing their own devices.
PICT provides IT and associated services to parliamentary employees as well as MPs and their members of staff – around 7,000 people in total, Computing reports.
In 2009, PICT was tasked with devising a five-year plan that would develop parliament’s IT strategy up until the 2015 election.
“One of the very big demands from members prior to the last election was to be able to choose their own devices. So we went into the 2010 election having planned an offering that enabled us to safely present emails on most mobile devices,” said Ms Miller.
MPs tend to have different attitudes to technology, with some being more conservative than others. After trialling paperless committees, however, all but one member embraced the new working practice – and this was just because he was new and had yet to acquire an iPad.
iPads are beginning to be used in MPs’ constituencies, and may even be displacing laptops, which are increasingly used for desk work.
As a result of the shift in attitudes, the next five-year plan will be much less prescriptive. MPs will have a flat-rate allowance and be able to choose from one of five devices with which to equip their parliamentary offices.
Cloud computing is also beginning to have an influence on MPs. Feasibility studies were conducted into the technology, as there were concerns about security and ownership of data.
A year was devoted to addressing these issues, and a further year spent planning the transition. After May 2015, it is to become the default system for email, storage, file-sharing, and hosted apps for Lords, MPs and staff, as well as providing the usual Microsoft Office software suite.