Federal agencies, like private sector companies, must be responsive to customer needs by offering information via mobile applications to serve the needs of the public. Developing public facing mobile applications are important for the same reasons that it is important for agencies to improve communications and public outreach of all kinds. Most federal agencies are in the business of providing services to the public and even those that are not, are after all, accountable to the public. That is why even before anyone ever heard of mobile applications, agencies were attempting to reduce the wait time in their offices and on their phones and providing more services via their websites.
With the advent of a new medium, government needs to change with the times. Government agencies should be focused on developing individual mobile strategies that suit their particular needs. Mobile strategy can encompass everything from “what kind of app should I create” to “how can I transfer pertinent information from my agency’s website to a smart phone”. The answers come in understanding the mission, business process, and core services of an agency as well as the nature of enterprise mobile application development with the key question being what services can appropriately be optimized for a mobile app on a smart phone.
For the internal facing challenge, federal agencies need to go through the same analysis in terms of understanding the core job functions of employees and make a thoughtful evaluation of how mobile technologies can enable certain employees to do their jobs better. It is important to keep in mind that given the size and diversity of the workforce of individual agencies, there will most likely not be a “one size fits all” approach to mobile solutions. For example, a senior executive in the Veterans Affairs Department will most likely have a different need for a tablet application than a VA clinician in a medical clinic.
Despite these large and varied workforces, and taking ongoing budget constraints into account, agencies should try to focus on common goals for mobile technology solutions for their employees. In most enterprises, this means bringing solutions to challenges of portability, remote access, security, cost, and usability and support when it comes to email, calendar, documents and presentations.
All in all the federal government should embrace mobile technology, recognizing that both challenges and solutions exist in both customer facing mobile strategies and internal or enterprise facing mobile strategies.