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Solutions for developing and deploying mobile applications and devices in a federal government environment.
The White House’s Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People provides the expectation that federal agencies transform themselves, delivering public service digitally. This transformation includes digital mobility for federal employees, placing a premium on the need to balance risk management with cost effectiveness.
Historically, much of the federal government has adopted and used the Research in Motion® (RIM) BlackBerry® infrastructure for its secure mobility needs. For many years, only RIM could deliver devices and infrastructure that could meet stringent federal security requirements and, in general, there were not many smartphone competitors that provided a better solution. Today mobility consumerization has led to an explosion in the popularity of other platforms, Apple® iOS® and Google® Android® and has created a demand for tablets, as well as smartphones, to be used within government. Generations entering the workforce have grown up with mobility, and are demanding to use the latest mobility platforms in the federal work environment. In some cases, employees want to use their personal devices for work tasks, presenting a problem for federal IT departments that want to protect sensitive government data.
In light of all the digital governance changes occurring, it has become imperative to embrace mobility through an experienced and trusted partner in some form of public-private collaborative partnership for achieving the goals that are unique to the digital audience.
The rapid evolution of commercial mobile devices has made the technology an essential requirement for government and commercial end users. The growing need to produce new and innovative mobile applications that provide mission-critical or enhanced business capabilities to our government workforce, along with common capabilities like secure email, has led to the enormous challenge of providing standardized solutions. Employees and citizens have grown accustomed to the user experience by using more intuitive consumer-based mobile technology and applications—and expect the same from government.
Mobility provides better and faster decision making through improved access to key data and analytics capabilities anytime, anywhere. It also enables access to workflow tools on the job, reducing manual processes, supporting on-the-go secure operations, services and management.
Many of today’s government field force workers still rely on paper-based or offline systems for completing mission-critical tasks. They manually access information at a service center or field depot. The process is time-consuming and burdensome. With rising citizen expectations, it is more critical than ever for the field force to access near real-time information to not only improve productivity, but also improve citizen satisfaction, become more insight-driven and improve relationships with citizens.
Mobility is transformational and has benefits for government agencies at all levels. Agencies should look for a partner that brings in-depth knowledge in a variety of specialized areas. Such a partner can apply lessons and insights it gathers from working across industries and agencies. These lessons may include developing a governance model, defining and developing methodologies, selecting development and test tools, procedures and policies for application lifecycle management, setting up test labs and other infrastructure, evaluation of third-party components, device and platform selection, skills development for staff and, most importantly, multi-level security.
Since the mobility landscape is continuously changing, conducting a thorough and updated assessment of the mobility environment, along with its user and mission requirements, would help define strategy, identify gaps to determine the right set of solutions, define the governance and operating model, identify solutions which have greater ROI, business benefits of transformation and define an implementation roadmap.
The first step toward a mobile solution for federal government agencies is the creation of a mobile strategy. A mobile strategy needs to lay out the roadmap for what initiatives should be undertaken, how they should be managed and governed, and who would be responsible for what. Accenture recommends that federal agencies set up a Mobile Center of Excellence (MCoE). The MCoE is a group of specialists that helps create, implement, drive adoption of and promote standards for digital opportunities across the business. The MCoE provides advice on opportunity creation, technology standards, vendor selection, device management, mobile security and architecture, device selection, development tools and standards, testing methodology and tools, opportunity adoption and quality management.
Establishing governance for mobile is also very important. A well-designed governance process will ensure that mobile ideas generated by the business are checked for viability, compliance and security before entering the development phase.
Once the process and methodologies are selected, the next step is determining how to build the apps. Agencies need to look at the audience and analyze uses cases to determine which architectural approach makes most sense. For example, a native approach can support offline usage and can deliver a more compelling user experience including taking advantage of the rich features of the device. However, native application development can be more expensive and time-consuming if the target is to deploy across multiple platforms and OSs.
Download the full paper for detailed recommendations about mobile security, distribution and testing. [PDF, 163 KB]
December 9, 2013
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