When Does an Application Need Mobile Capabilities?

Everyone has great ideas for how to incorporate mobile applications into an application environment. They all start from user feedback, modernization efforts or digital transformation. But when does that application need mobile capabilities and accessibility from multiple devices?

Applications developed in government agencies have specific requirements for deliverables. For an application to be accessed by mobile devices or tablets, it has to perform a service, provide a specific role or give information that only that organization can offer. Agencies should have a specific reason to provide mobile apps that includes performing some unique role or offering some insight that only that agency can offer.

It also requires listening to users to understand their perspective and why accessibility from multiple channels is important. This information will provide background information on what is required to develop an application that will provide services that are scalable into the future.

Everyone has expectations that the services we receive from government agencies should be similar to those we get from commercial websites. Agencies have an opportunity to better engage with users to create better experiences. Accessibility from devices should be personalized, provide context and also be valuable to users.  The goal is to develop applications that mean something to users.

A mobile application should provide:

  • The opportunity to engage with customers in real time with personalized information
  • Provide real-time engagement between users and government, making accessibility easier and saving time
  • Utilize technology to understand geolocation and third-party data to communicate and offer additional services

It is important, however, to understand that not all services are suitable for delivery on every device. Determining the best way to deliver services is key to developing applications that are meaningful and specific to user need. So, how do you determine when mobility is a good choice? Realistically, mobile accessibility should only be used if it helps complete a task better and faster.

This means that mobile applications should align with other delivery mechanisms. The application in its entirety should create a seamless, usable experience that is similar across all channels. This includes transactions that are started in one channel and completed in others.

It’s also important to note that there is no one specific channel that works with every application or service provided. Ensuring that an application is customer-centric means it fits a specific purpose that has been clearly defined by understanding users and what they believe is meaningful.

Jennifer McNeill is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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