We’re living in the mobile-first era, where all aspects of our lives, from our homes to the devices we use are digitally connected. Still, most federal agencies haven’t capitalized on the mobile movement yet.
If they don’t catch up and adopt mobile technologies soon, they could compromise their credibility, sensitive data security, and consumer trust.
Here are a few key reasons why going mobile is critical for government organizations.
Increasing Workplace Productivity
In the federal sphere, the term “mobile” is usually associated with remote work and easier access to business data. And, it stops there. Employees spend hours chained to their desks, working on tasks they could do faster and more efficiently via their mobile devices.
Precisely because of that, government agencies need to stop thinking of a mobile-first strategy as a bunch of devices that prevent their staff from getting the work done. Instead, they need to focus on the benefits this approach brings to their employees in terms of better productivity, simplified business processes, improved collaboration, increased information workflow, and so on.
Switching to the mobile-first strategy is a logical step for government organizations. The mere fact that almost half of all government workers are eligible to work from home backs me up on that.
Now, some government agencies recognize the importance of supporting employees with the right mobile technologies. Statistics say that almost 45% of US federal agencies provide smartphones to their employees, while 55% of them jump to the “BYOD” bandwagon and let their employees use their own devices to complete tasks. This approach brings numerous benefits to the overall workplace productivity, such as:
- Minimizing the time spent on data entry
- Allowing employees to access data uninterruptedly from any location
- Improving accuracy and minimizing human error
- Boosting collaboration among employees
- Greater employee satisfaction
- Faster decision-making.
For example, in New Mexico, police use their mobile phones to control cameras and view images in real-time, which may be critical in some time-sensitive situations when they need to react fast.
Unfortunately, with the noble exception of the military sector, federal organizations are still lagging behind companies in the private sector when it comes to implementing new technologies. The main reason is low budgets, the lack of a clear implementation plan, as well as the lack of vision.
Federal agencies need to bear in mind that the mobile-first approach to work organization is not our future. It’s our reality. It represents the foundation of modernizing the IT sector and encouraging employees to work in a more productive way.
Boosting Customer Experience
The number of smartphone users is constantly rising. Statista claims that this figure will exceed 5 billion by 2019. Just like I’ve already mentioned, we use our phones to complete a wide range of activities, from working out to paying bills. And, stats back me up on that. For example, did you know that the US smartphone owners install approximately 90 apps monthly, 10 of which they use actively every day?
Unfortunately, government agencies are still struggling to meet their mobile customers’ expectations. According to the Government Business Council, 1 in 4 users is not satisfied with the IT services provided by federal institutions. The majority of research participants highlighted that improving customer experience should be federal organizations’ major priority.
Citizen-centered apps would reshape customer satisfaction and engage them more effectively. They would build trust with customers, giving them the opportunity to connect with the right organizations faster, in a way that is natural to them.
San Francisco’s awesome project called SFpark is a perfect example of how important mobile-first adaptation is for citizens. Namely, an average American wastes 17 hours a year finding a parking spot. To solve this problem, this city put sensors in thousands of on-street places and city garages, informing users of free parking spots in real-time, via their smartphone app.
This is also a great opportunity for federal agencies to engage citizens and encourage them to contribute to the betterment of society. For example, New York created a mobile app people can install to report any problems they come across, such as damaged street signs or street potholes.
Federal institutions could also include their citizens in building a mobile-first strategy and, in this way, solve their customers’ problems more effectively. One such example is numerous transit mobile apps that offer real-time information about multiple public transportation solutions, wait times, and routes based on the data they collect. Interestingly, most of them are created by citizens and not governments.
Did you know that government organizations spend almost 80% of their IT budgets on resolving technology problems only temporarily? Fixing those outdated and faulty aspects of their IT plans, they don’t’ have an opportunity to focus on coming up with a fresher, better-optimized, and mobile-first plan.
Worse yet, the lack of modernized systems comes with great risks. Even though cybersecurity has always been a priority for any government agency, outdated technologies don’t let them fight today’s highly sophisticated cyberattacks. According to the 2017 U.S. State and Federal Government Cybersecurity Report, the government has almost the lowest security score, compared to other industries.
This is where mobile adoption shines.
Now, even though cybersecurity experts warn us of the rising risks linked with the rapid growth of mobile devices, mobile technologies can actually be your valuable source of data security improvement. They offer some additional features, such as security keys or data encryption that safeguard employee and consumer sensitive data.
Just pay attention to how private sector harnesses this trend. The first example that crossed my mind is mobile banking. Namely, we use these apps not only to see our bank statements on the go, but also to authenticate our requests, too. Many banks require the use of unique, one-time-use codes we need to generate via mobile devices when making transactions.
It’s not difficult to imagine government institutions using these additional levels of data protection. This could apply to different sectors and activities, from public health records to governmental loan updates.
Where to Start?
Federal institutions need to implement the mobile-first plan strategically. Here are a few questions they need to ask themselves:
- What are the most powerful systems for my organization? Always choose the ones that support the most vital apps your employees use every day and provide robust cybersecurity options to prevent data breaches.
- Which Android phone should I get for my employees/Which iPhone should I get to keep my employees safe? Choose the ones that provide sophisticated Facial ID and Touch ID, hardware-assisted security, and data encryption features. For iOS, these are iPhone 6 series and above. For Android phones, these are probably Samsung Galaxy Note series and BlackBerry KEY2 that has been recently defined as “the most secure Android smartphone.” Remember, mobile-first adoption should be an additional layer of security and not a threat to your organization.
- Where are we currently with mobile implementations? Check the configuration systems you’re already using and try to rethink your business processes.
- What are the major security risks our organization has been facing?
- What do we want to achieve by implementing the mobile-first approach? Going mobile just for the sake of it doesn’t make sense. You need to set clear goals and build your strategy around them to achieve greater results.
Over to You
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has been already going on. And, mobile adoption comes as a cherry on the top. Companies in the private sector already use it to close the productivity gap, increase customer satisfaction, and improve data security. And, if federal agencies fail to redesign the way they do work and adapt to the mobile-first era, they will miss out on an opportunity to build trust with customers, protect their sensitive data, and boost workforce performance.