Government, Go Mobile in 2012. Do It Right

By: Andreas Muno

Over the next few weeks, this blog series will explore the reason why government should go mobile, and identify strategies that have been successful.

But first let’s discuss the state of government mobility. So, what are government organizations already doing? In the US for example, many federal, state and local agencies already provide for some type of citizen-facing mobile application, mostly for finding and using information and accessing specific services. For an overview see e.g. apps.usa.gov. In the US, the federal General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies encourages other federal agencies to make government more mobile-accessible for citizens, and provides practical help and guidance. http://blog.citizen.apps.gov/howtomobile

Go mobile and save money

There is a perceivable trend in many agencies to demonstrate awareness and to provide for some mobile experience of public content or services to citizens. These activities are laudable, as they show a renewed focus on serving citizen. However, as figures quoted below clearly show, the current activities are just that, a trickle of a trend, not yet mainstream, and more importantly, not indicative of a strategic and systematic embrace of this maturing technology. By hesitating to go systematically mobile, government agencies on all levels, federal, state or local, are maintaining unnecessarily high levels of expenditure, and forego the opportunity to enhance citizen services. Here’s the case for government to strategically go mobile while saving money, and some indications of how to get there.

No gov left behind?

“There goes my people, I’ve got to follow them, I’m their leader”. Attributed to Alexandre Ledru-Rollin, a French revolutionary, this quote sums it up: Governments will be left behind when they don’t embrace technologies their constituents use. The use of mobile technology (or rather the lack thereof) is a great case in point.

By 2015, the world’s mobile worker population will reach 1.3 billion, representing 37.2% of the total workforce, finds IDC, a consultancy in its latest report http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23251912

Generation Y workers, the Millenials, are always connected to jobs through technology. Accenture, claims these expectations of Millennials have an impact on employer attractiveness: 52% of them consider state-of-the-art technology an important selection criteria for employers. http://www.accenture.com/us-en/Pages/insight-millennials-jumping-boundaries-corporate-it.aspx

A recent survey shows that only 11% of respondents have deployed enterprise mobility solutions and reports that “Government/Public Sector enterprises are the laggards in the race”. For enterprise mobility, which is led by the financial services and hospitality industry the survey reports more than 50% have deployed enterprise mobility solutions. http://cioresearchcenter.com/2011/11/cio-survey-on-enterprise-mobility-survey-report (page 8). For me, this picture is a little surprising, as safety and security concerns in the financial industry and in government are often viewed as equally important. Banks offer mobile banking and financial transactions via dedicated apps, the web, or via SMS and their customers love it. We’ll dig into this in the coming weeks.

Laudable beginnings, but where is the strategy?

Clearly, the clock is ticking for government. When competing with the private sector on the labor market today (and with one another), agencies which do not invest in mobile technology and do not support mobile devices risk to lose out massively on the brightest minds and most productive workers. If for no other reason, keeping a sustainable workforce should be the single most important reason for each and every government agency to create a strategic plan for and with enterprise mobility now.

This post can also be seen on SAP Community Network, here.

Leave a Comment

One Comment

Leave a Reply

David Coley

Having spent 10 years with one of the major smartphone EOM’s supporting Federal, State, & Local Government directly, I have seen, first hand, the impact of mobile applications. Indeed we had customers who indicated that mobility and the use of applications by the feet on the street had fundamentally changed how their business got done. I’ve seen this in healthcare, law enforcement, and financial sectors, among others. Smartphones started out in the hands of the executive but it was the application within specific, front-line functional areas, which made enormous impact.

However… Great caution needs to be taken. BYOD (bring your own device) is a trend for which we do not yet know the full security impact. And younger workers demand mobile technologies yet these same workers tend not to focus on security and think nothing of sharing widely on social networking sites.

Further, enterprise MDM only addresses half the equation. The application of MDM (Mobile Device Management) solutions may be leaving users with the false sense of security that anything done on their smartphone is protected. Voice is one area that is largely ignored, yet cellular voice and text message interception is extremely easy to accomplish with about $1500 in equipment. Call harvesting, intercepting and capturing all calls in a geographic area for later analysis, is easily done yet largely ignored. There are simple and easy to use apps today to encrypt SBU/CUI conversations. Protection of voice and SMS, not only at classified levels, must be part of the consideration as Government seeks to go more mobile.