Agencies Developing More Comprehensive Mobile Strategies and Policies

Monica Mayk Parham, Marketing Director, Market Connections, Inc.

The rise of mobile technology in the government sector has allowed government employees to be more nimble and effective. Though with increased mobility comes greater challenges for those in charge of implementing mobile applications, such as Roger Baker, CIO at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The proliferation of tablets, smartphones and other mobile applications across various platforms creates data security and management issues for the approximately 280,000 doctors and employees at the VA. One example, highlighted in AOL Government, was when a group of VA doctors developed their own mobile app without the consent or input from Baker and his team.

The increase in use of mobile technologies by both government workers and citizens is forcing agencies and programs to address how to provide information and services securely and cost-effectively, even as austerity measures impact budgets. Studies have shown that mobility in the workforce can save taxpayer’s dollars by creating a more efficient workforce, yet government IT professionals warn that investments may be inadequate. As previously highlighted, these findings from the recent AOL Government/Market Connections mobility survey stood out:

  • (49%) of federal managers surveyed said “government employees like themselves” could redeploy at least 7 hours per week toward more productive work if fully enabled to work mobily; 19% said they could redeploy more than 12 hours per week.
  • Three out of four respondents (75%) said “productivity” and “cost savings” will result from mobile technology by making it easier to complete work from the field.

Yet 60% of respondents said the budgets allocated to adopting mobile technology at their agencies are not sufficient to meet their agencies’ needs and 54% believe that budgets would need to be increased “significantly” to meet those needs.

Furthermore, government IT professionals are looking for more guidance or roadmaps from senior government IT officials (44%) on how best to move forward with mobile technology, in lieu of policy statements, and 41% would like to see better acquisition processes to buy mobile technology.

With the government deploying more citizen-facing mobile applications, the other important issue has to do with properly branding those applications for the intended audiences. In Wyatt Kash’s June 5 AOL Government article, Baker stated, “There’s a lot we want the (VA) brand to mean to veterans. We’d like it to mean ‘helpfulness,’ especially compared to our past reputation,” he said. “That’s what the apps have to be oriented around.”

Reputation can be built and monitored around mobile apps just as around other, more traditional branded outreach. Agencies can apply the results of brand and perception research to inform the development, delivery and functionality of mobile applications. Usability testing will ensure apps are intuitive and relevant to the intended audiences. And customer satisfaction studies will help agencies keep their finger on the pulse of their publics, regardless of whether they are engaging via mobile apps, social media, agency-managed websites or face-to-face.

Be sure to check out the full post on FedConnects here.

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