Citizen adoption of mobile technology is one of the fastest growing trends in society. In May 2012, the Obama Administration launched the Digital Government Strategy. At that point, only 35% of adults owned a mobile device, while today that number is nearly 50%. Additionally, in May 2013, there were well over one million commercial apps available to download across major mobile platforms. As more consumer devices enter the workplace, the public sector has looked at ways to implement mobile to improve citizen engagement strategies, reduce costs and to increase employee productivity.
Although mobile is one of the most pressing trends in government, many mobile strategies are still in their early stages. Like most things we do in government, many mobile programs are fueled by documents. That’s why it’s important to remember that proper document management is essential to unlock knowledge and collect quality data at higher speeds and with increased accuracy. Below I’ve laid out five core aspects of a mobile strategy, and some key questions to consider while adopting mobile.
1 – Identify your audience and users
One of the first steps is really taking a look at your users. Ask who will be using the mobile service: Is it internal users? Citizens? What kind of requirements does each kind of users need and how will this help meet mission goals? Defining who are your users opens the door to a variety of questions to ask yourself in regards to mobile adoption:
- Who is my core audience?
- Through what channels can I reach the core users? Should we develop an app? Is our need related to a better tablet strategy?
- What are the user expectations and what kind of functionality does the app need to provide?
- Have we held focus groups or informational sessions with users to understand their needs?
- Have we created a feedback loop with our users so they can submit ideas, challenges or improvements?
- What kind of metrics do we believe are most important to measure our success?
- What’s our customer service strategy?
2 – Be sure to implement “off-line” capabilities
Imagine you are out in the field and unable to connect to the Internet to sync information. If you could still access documents through a mobile device, you could fill out paper work and have the document automatically sync once you are connected to the Internet again. This will improve the data collection process in terms of quality and speed of reporting. As you consider off-line functionality, here are some starting questions to consider:
- In what situations would off-line applications be useful? How is this applicable to my agency?
- Which of our users would need access to this kind of capabilities?
- What kind of documents or resources do we need to make available off-line for data collection? What are the constraints on this process?
3 – Move towards responsive design websites
Responsive design allows agencies to build one site that is ready for viewing on any device. Responsive design websites automatically adjust to a screen a user is viewing. So if you are looking on an Apple, Windows or Android tablet, computer of smartphone, the user experience will be the same. Some questions to consider thinking through include:
- Where are my users accessing my website? Are they coming from mobile devices or the web?
- What is my content strategy to produce high quality and authoritative information?
4 – Upsell services
Private sector companies spend millions of dollars a years attempting to attract customers and gain new business. All sorts of programs exist to build loyalty, upsell, cross-sell and gain a share of the market. Government agencies’ customers are much different. The sole fact of living in a town or city and being part of a community makes a citizen a customer of government services. This can be anything from trash collection, road repairs, removing brush, delivering the mail and the many services that government provides. With mobile, there is great opportunity to share additional resources to citizens to help achieve the overall vision of the agency. For instance, agencies can ask :
- How can I provide related information to my constituents through mobile? Are there blogs, websites or services I can cross promote to improve reach?
- What’s my communication strategy to promote a new mobile app?
- Is my service table friendly? How am I driving traffic to download apps and access information?
5 – Do all the basics (train, buy-in, leadership, engage, measure)
There is a certain pattern that any kind of technology adoption process must follow. The common themes are to gather buy-in from leadership, make a clear business case, engage with stakeholders and define your core metrics – these are the basics and primary steps to any kind of IT initiative. These are all essential, and some foundational questions are:
- What is the business case for mobile? How is this helping us meet our mission need?
- Whose support is essential for me to gain to move this project forward?
- How will we define success with our mobile program?
- Do we need to partner with a vendor?
- What’s the vision with mobile adoption?
- How is mobile improving the productivity, efficiency and morale of the government employee?
Mobile is one of the core technologies that will shape the future of government. In order to truly capitalize on the technology, agencies need to be sure they are connecting mobile to their core mission needs, and adopting innovative mobile strategies.
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OnBase is a proven enterprise content management solution for each level of government, helping each meet today’s challenges of smaller budgets and staffs while laying the foundation for simplified, efficient and mobile government information technology. To learn more, visit Hyland’s resources page on GovLoop.
Good advice but I’m not sold on #3 Responsive Design. Serving up mobile optimized content from your website provides value to a user only if that content is relevant to their context. When a constituent or employee is on-the-go, the most typical mobile context, one needs to deliver content that enables them to accomplish a mobile use case. That means that content on your website such as “Our Budget” or “Our History” probably add more to clutter than helping solve a “mobile mission.” Unless your responsive design can deliver mobile-relevant content to users (as well as ensuring brevity in the copy used), it’s not providing real value to anyone other than the webmaster.