Government agencies not only experience the budget squeeze, they feel mobility demands becoming ever more sophisticated increasing pressure from two sides: Their ecosystem increasingly uses mobile devices and demands for respective accommodation by the government, and, mobile devices and the productivity-enhancing apps that run on them become broadly affordable, a development sometimes dubbed as the “consumerization of IT”.
In broad terms, the demands of agencies’ ecosystem may be characterized by the following developments:
- The market for smart phones is growing quickly. According to a study by IDC Research, in the fourth quarter of 2010, for the first time, smart phone shipments overtook PC shipments, with 101 million to 92 million. Tablet sales are expected to increase 400% by 2012, based on 2010 numbers. In 2014, global mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage.
- Complexity in the mobile device market increases, as the dominance of operating system is shifting quickly, and form factors continue to proliferate with ever increasing speed.
- 20% of mobile workers are getting business apps from app stores today, and Forrester, another research company, claims within the next 12 months half of all organizations in the US plan to deploy mobile applications. Gartner, a consultancy, predicts, by 2013, a typical Fortune 1000 corporation will use at least six different combinations of mobile platform, architecture and development tools.
- According to IDC, by 2013, the total number of mobile workers will grow to nearly 1.2 billion people, i.e. more than a third of the world’s workforce.
- In average we spend about 3 hours daily on our mobile phone, that is over twice the amount of time we spend eating, states Edison Research. 58% of Smartphone owners would give up TV before giving up their smart phones. People increasingly expect instant access to information and services, 24/7. 30% of consumers research products on their mobile phones (up from 14% in 2009).
- 23% of the workforce are now Millennials, raising to 37% within four years, says Ernst & Young, a consultancy. These Millennials have other expectations and behavior, which has an impact on security: 40% of Millennials use unsanctioned mobile phones, instant messaging and social networking sites for work activities. Accenture, another consultancy claims, these expectations of the Millennials have an impact on employer attractiveness: 52% of them consider state-of-the-art technology an important selection criteria for employers.
The challenges for government agencies are multifold: They touch procurement and IT decisions, HR and worker productivity, business processes and communication channels, patterns of interactions with employees and constituents, and affect paradigms of security and safety for government data. Agencies need to make sustainable decisions in procuring devices and mobile enterprise application platforms which support complexity, but reduce rather than increase it. As more and more people will want to use their mobile devices to access information government agencies publish, they will want to interact with government agencies, using their devices. To accommodate users, governments have to understand how these devices work, and how to not only give in to the demand, but how to take advantage of these trends in order to achieve its own goals and its missions more effectively.
And the clock is ticking: When competing with the private sector (and one another) on the labor market today, agencies which do not invest in mobile technology and do not support mobile devices for work risk to lose out massively on the brightest minds and most productive workers. If for no other reason, sustainable attrition should be the single most important reason for each and every government agency to create a strategic plan for and with enterprise mobility now.
There’s no doubt software will play an important role. More importantly though, agencies will have to make good policy decisions, decisions embracing mobile technologies and taking advantage of the many benefits they offer, while keeping sensitive government data protected from unauthorized access. In a series of blogs over the next few months, I would like to highlight some of these challenges, and how government agencies can cope with them.