The Mobile-First Mindset

While agencies have improved the way they prioritize mobility in general, there is much more to be done. According to a recent poll, 86 percent of federal decision-makers believe mobile devices are critical to their jobs. And mobile access is just as important to citizens who must interact with government. An Accenture report found more than half of U.S. citizens would like to be able to access government services via a smartphone app. All of this evidence points to one fact: Agencies must get better at optimizing websites and portals for mobile access and interaction.

“We’re at a digital divide. It’s all about the information that is being accessed and shared,” says Tom Lacey, director of federal programs at BlackBerry. “Citizens want to consume their utility services, pay fines and access benefits information the same way they consume social media, and so do federal employees—especially millennials.”

Making this change requires adopting a mobile-first mindset. That means when an agency is thinking about developing a new service or revamping an existing one, it must be built for consumption on mobile devices. When building a service for renewing drivers’ licenses, for example, think about what’s required on the backend to make it as intuitive for mobile users as possible. And make these considerations during the planning phases of the project.

Putting mobile first also means finding ways to integrate mobility across the entire agency, from encouraging even more employees to embrace mobility to integrating mobile applications with existing applications and back-end systems. The goal is to help employees remain productive while using mobile devices throughout the workday.

Another way to integrate mobility across government agencies is by adopting or upgrading agency-wide unified communications systems. These systems help employees securely collaborate and share files via mobile devices from wherever they’re working.

Adopting an enterprise mobile management system (EMM) can help agencies achieve these goals by simplifying secure access and management. For example, a mobile application management (MAM) function can protect sensitive information, while helping users interact with the system and access specified data sets.

Mobile content management (MCM) ensures that when government data leaves a protected network, it remains secure. For example, agencies can apply Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology to documents, which attaches security to specific documents instead of simply securing the network perimeter. DRM technology can stipulate, for example, a specific user has read-only access to a document for 48 hours, but can’t copy or forward that document.

When choosing mobile-enabling technology, it’s important to develop systems that are simple for users to access and manipulate. It should also be easy for developers to integrate the service into the backend infrastructure. Besides simplicity and ease of integration, the solution should be as flexible as possible in terms of development and deployment. Fostering a mobile-first mindset also means thinking about mobility as early as possible in any process.

“Mobile requirements should be put in contracts, and that’s not often the case,” says Lacey. “It’s like building an office building and then saying you need to add more wiring in. It’s much better to put the wiring in when you’re framing.”