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5 Lessons Learned for Mobile Adoption for 2012

Throughout the month of December, GovLoop has been reviewing the year in government technology – everything from BYOD to social media, I’ve been working to highlight some case studies, best practices and try and condense the year down into one post, while looking forward to the year 2013. Follow along here by viewing GovLoop’s Year in Review Guide, our related blog series, and podcasts.

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This year, one of the leading trends in government was mobility. There are many different lenses that mobility can be looked at. Whether it is BYOD, citizen engagement, efficiency, cost savings or improved productivity, mobility has certainly shaped government in 2012.

This year we also saw a lot of conversation around the “consumerization” of IT. Because of consumerization of IT, many agencies are challenged to provide support for a variety of devices. The days when everyone was issued the identical phone or laptop are now past. Microsoft’s blog, FutureFed, had a post from September called, Managing the Mobile Device Explosion in DoD, By Victor Akinnagbe, Microsoft Chief DoD Architect, and Jason Opdycke, Microsoft Air Force Architect.

In this post, Victor identifies the Department of Defenses Mobile Device Strategy. Victor shares, “Back in June, the Defense Department unveiled its Mobile Device Strategy, designed to maximize the productivity and flexibility benefits of mobile devices, wireless infrastructure and mobile applications. The strategy acknowledges a new reality across DoD – that the use of commercial mobile technologies - like Android Phones, Windows Phones, iPads and other tablets - are rapidly gaining momentum.”

Victor also informs us that the DoD currently has more than 250,000 commercial mobile devices being used within the DoD. Each device has unique operating systems, needs and access to information. The DoD is a perfect example to show how the traditional model of employees given nearly identical devices is now outdated. Over and over again this year we have heard it - employees are using their personal devices, tablets and computers to access organizational information.

Within the post, Victor provides a great quote from Defense Chief Information Officer Teri Takai, “This strategy is not simply about embracing the newest technology – it is about keeping the DoD workforce relevant in an era when information and cyberspace play a critical role in mission success.”

What was fascinating to watch this year to watch was that mobile initiatives was not just the product of a handful of agencies, but mobility was pushed by the highest levels of government with the Digital Government Strategy.

GovLoop had a lot of coverage of the Digital Government Strategy - everything from an infographic, to a report, and various podcasts and blog posts. Here is a quick recap of the Digital Government Strategy from my colleague, Emily Jarvis:

  1. Open Data is the new default: Data should be public when possible and available anywhere, anytime on any device
  2. Make Government Data Social: Drive interactions on a two way street
  3. Agencies will develop a slash developer page: transform data.gov to be the one place you go to to get data
  4. No more government domains: right now there are 18,000 dot.gov domains, 30,000/40,000 websites in the federal government
  5. Agencies must convert two priority citizen services to mobile in the next 12 months
  6. Take two backend systems and convert them to API's
  7. Create the Digital Innovation Center: central effort to change web dynamic
  8. Private sector integration

You can find a lot great podcasts and information by visiting Emily’s post - as it will remind you of the importance of the Digital Government Strategy and implications for 2013. Some agencies are farther along than others with mobility. One of my favorite apps is USDA’s Ask Karen App. USDA states,

“Ask Karen from your desktop or laptop. You can get answers to your food safety questions while at the grocery store, farmers market, in your kitchen, or while at your barbecue grill. Using your iOS (iPhone and iPad) or Android device, you can chat live with a food safety expert on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST, and the app provides the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline number (1-888-MPHotline) in case you want to speak to someone directly. You can share answers to food safety questions via email from Mobile Ask Karen.”

But what did learn in 2012? Certainly mobile will be a critical trend in government in 2013, so below are some quick tips on what we learned in 2012 for mobile adoption.

5 Lessons Learned from Mobile Adoption for 2012

Across the board, this is one of the coolest apps for government agencies out there. But what did we learn in 2012? Here are 5 of my lessons learned:

1 - Employees are Easily Empowered

One of the big lessons learned this year is how easy it is for an employee to be empowered outside of the traditional IT structure. With multiple devices available, and ease of accessing information that may rest in the cloud, employees can easily share information, data, create apps, and do a variety of things that may or may not be supported by IT. For 2013, it will continue to be critically important for the public sector to train employees and protect information.

2 - For 2013, Agencies Need to Look Beyond BYOD

The speed at which technology adoption occurs is pushing agencies to think well beyond just bring your own device, and increasingly move into “bring your own everything” and update systems to create a modern workplace. Employees are not confined to their desk or any kind of physical location. Also, there are more and more examples of employees in the field sharing data back to an office, or sometimes not even an employee at all - a hired contractor, citizen or anyone who may be interested in sharing or accessing information.

3 - Cost Savings, efficiency, productivity are all part of mobility

The conversation on mobility can go off in a lot of different ways. There are strong arguments to be made about cost reductions through BYOD, efficiency, and productivity for employees. These trends will continue to dominate the conversation, as they are indicative to larger problems facing government related to budgets, and attempts to cut waste to find cost savings.

4 - Emergency Management

There are endless great examples of how mobile is assisting in emergency management and as a crisis unfolds. Disasters are complex, and there is an enormous amount of preparation and coordination that goes into disaster reliefs. We see compelling images on TV and bravery from first responders and citizens, but a lot if going on behind the scenes that we rarely see. Here are a couple interviews from the DorobekINSIDER on emergency management and mobility:

5 - Final Tips on What Makes a Great App

Below is a list of 10 Things that make a great government app from a recent interview on the Dorobek Insider, take a look at the post here, and below you can see 10 things that make a great app:

  1. Deliver quickly and precisely the right information to and from the mobile device.
  2. Rigorously protect information from unauthorized use.
  3. Present the information in a manner that optimizes the business process.
  4. Allow the user to remain productive even when the network is unavailable.
  5. Minimize impact on underlying enterprise IT systems and infrastructures.
  6. Exploit the capabilities of the device.
  7. Accommodate the ever-changing variety of available devices.
  8. Deliver new and focused capabilities frequently and consistently
  9. Establish governance standards that empower developers
  10. Delight the user.

In a lot of ways, 2012 felt like a foundation year for mobile in government, the general framework was addressed, challenges identified, and a handful of agencies took a jump into mobile strategies. Next year, like a lot of technology trends this year, we will see increased adoption and increasing pressures for government to transform and update systems. As mobile becomes increasingly commonplace in our personal lives, it is only inevitable that government will adopt the trends in the workplace.

Every day at Microsoft we are motivated and inspired by how our customers use our software to find creative solutions to business problems, develop breakthrough ideas, and stay connected to what's most important to them. Check out their Microsoft Productivity for Government group on GovLoop as well as the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.

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