By Chuck Brooks, Vice President and Client Executive, Department of Homeland Security
According to Flurry, an application analytics provider, users spend 2 hours and 42 minutes per day on mobile devices and mobile app usage accounts for 2 hours and 19 minutes of that time. Additionally, Gartner forecasts that mobile app stores will see annual downloads reach 268 billion in 2017 and total revenue of $77 billion.
Mobile apps are ingrained in our everyday lives – in and out of work. Every business leader is urging their company to develop and utilize apps that make life easier for their customers, even the leader of one very big business – Barack Obama.
In 2012, the Obama administration released the “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People” strategy as a roadmap to guide agencies to the future of the public sector. The President said that “Americans deserve a government that works for them anytime, anywhere, and on any device” and specifically asked each agency to create at least two apps to help the public make use of available technology.
Agencies have bought in, because not only do mobile apps give citizens the control they deserve, it gives them a quick way to connect with agencies and ultimately increases civic engagement. And as for the benefits to agencies, these apps provide a way to reach the masses and gather valuable constituent information that will revolutionize how agencies make better informed decisions about polices plans and projects.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen some really interesting and innovative apps in many different divisions of government. For example, in August, app developers created a free iPhone app designed to help military veterans who are distressed and need help readjusting to civilian life. Military and veteran suicide levels have been at an all-time high and the app will help vets find each other for moral support along with health centers, emergency care and job fairs. There’s also a federal government app to track and catch child predators that helped the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations Division apprehend a suspect within 36 hours. And lastly, think of the impact mobile apps could have on tracking Ebola. Already, government agencies including the CDC and private commercial companies are developing tools to help control the disease outbreak and even tests body fluid and provide results in less than 20 minutes. These apps and tools could all play a critical role in stopping the spread of this contagious disease.
Two areas primed for additional app development are:
- Transaction Processing: Almost every agency in the federal government has some sort of transaction processing. Whether it is electronic benefit programs, human resources including benefits, health and welfare or finance and accounting functions, one way to streamline business processes, shorten billing cycles, increase turnaround time and save money is through transaction processing on mobile apps.
- Customer Service: By using mobile apps in customer service, agencies would increase response times and increase efficiencies. Agents would be able to flag app inquires by priority and respond to requests no matter their location. Customer service mobile apps can also go as far as including intelligent technology like interactive voice response systems to provide voice-based assistance and collect analytics to better understand issues and route calls accurately. This type of technology can increase internal collaboration by giving customer service agents the most up-to-date information on current customer service trends and allow agents to proactively provide information to constituents based on the context of problems occurring at that time.
It goes without saying that consumers are turning to their mobile devices and apps to supplement and/or enhance daily activities and it’s critical that the public sector take advantage of those ready-made touch points. What apps would you like to see developed in the public sector?