The Advantages of Mobile Computing for Local Government
It’s 8:47 a.m. and you’re scheduled to present in front of your county legislature at 9 a.m. sharp. You’re standing in the hallway outside the chamber door and see an email pop-up on your smartphone from your County Sheriff with updated statistics for your presentation. The Sheriff explicitly requests that the data in your presentation slides be updated before you present at 9 a.m.
Now it’s 8:48 a.m.
You pull your tablet out of your bag and open your presentation using the PowerPoint application on your tablet. Referring to the email from the Sheriff, you update the data on slides 8, 12, and 17. You even have time to update one of your charts, which was built in Excel, also using your tablet, and drop the new chart onto slide number 20.
You save your presentation at exactly 8:57 a.m., and send a quick email to The Sheriff to confirm that you made his requested changes. At 9 a.m. on the dot, you’re called in to the chamber to present. You tether your tablet to the room’s projector, and share the latest presentation with your legislature.
Ten, or even five years ago, making such last-minute updates while away from your desk, could not have happened. Only five years ago, that scene would have played out with a phone call from The Sheriff, an apology and explanation that the presentation was already saved to a CD and not editable, and ad-lib presentation commentary about the outdated information.
Today, thanks to the ubiquity of mobile technology and advances in enterprise applications, private and public sector employees can work better, faster, no matter where they are, and what type of computing device they’re using.
The Proliferation of Mobile
2014 was the tipping point. That was the year when digital time spent on a mobile device first surpassed time spent on a desktop computer, according to researcher comScore. In 2014, 60 percent of our digital activities were conducted on a mobile device. Since 2014, that number has only continued to grow.
The Rise of Enterprise Mobility
It’s no surprise that the most popular app used on a mobile device is Facebook, but it should also be no surprise that Americans use their smartphones and tablets for more than personal correspondence and social networking. The scenario described at the beginning of this article is one of countless scenes that play out daily in communities across the nation.
The greatest benefit of mobile technology for private and public sector workers is the ability to work better, faster, from anywhere, on any device.
Consider these enterprise mobility statistics:
- According to TopRank Marketing, 64% of decision-makers read their e-mail on a mobile device.
- According to Fliplet, 60% of workers use apps for work-related activity
- 53% of those who work on a mobile device say it helps them do their job better
- 25% of workers use department-specific apps for such business activities as:
- Event support
- Marketing campaigns
- Financial reporting
- Creating proposals
- Product management
- Project management
Advancements in mobile device technology and enterprise applications have led to the trend of ubiquitous computing we see today. Today’s average American worker, whether in the private or public sector, is always connected. A greater number of software solutions are developing accompanying apps that allow workers to seamlessly utilize a system, work on a project, or collaborate with a team, from anywhere, on any device. Today, a public information officer for a community can start creating a press release on a desktop computer, in the afternoon, finish the same document on a tablet while waiting for a meeting to start in a building across town, and edit the same document later that night while riding the commuter train home.
The Benefits of Mobility for the Public Sector
Ubiquitous access to work applications and projects is especially beneficial for those public sector managers and workers whose positions require mobility. Municipal communication managers, for example, rarely spend full days in their offices. They are at community events, in meetings, and being interviewed by the media. Such managers need access to files and systems throughout the day, no matter where they are.
Using mobile applications, communication managers can post photos and videos of events to social media as they happen, share immediate breaking news, post blogs during town hall meetings, and even keep voters informed on election day from anywhere, and on any device.
Mobile enterprise technology not only allows access to solutions from any location, it allows access at any time. Communities don’t run from 9 – 5 like corporations. Breaking news, community events, and even local emergencies, can happen at any time. Mobile apps allow public sector workers to create and distribute news and information to citizens after hours, on weekends, or even on holidays if necessary, without having to commute across town to access the office desktop—an inconvenience experienced by many public sector managers over the past few decades.
Mobile Government Content Management
As mobile technology has advanced, software programmers are taking a mobile-first approach to designing enterprise solutions. Understanding the importance of enterprise mobility tools, a wide variety of software solutions are now offering mobile applications, including word processing software, calendars, project management solutions, communication tools, survey tools, email admin tools, cloud storage systems, and team collaboration tools.
To ensure such solutions are effective when used on a smartphone or tablet, over the past few years, developers have even learned to better design mobile software interfaces to optimize an admin user’s experience. For example, larger buttons for touch screen interaction, and intuitive hamburger button navigation make complex computing possible from a mobile device.
Even website content management systems (CMS) are being designed with mobile administrative access. Today, communication managers are given the power to manage key functions of their municipal websites from a smartphone or tablet, allowing them to communicate with citizens anytime, and from anywhere.