3 lessons in mobility from Europe’s governments

26 February 2014 | David Burrows, Managing Director of Government Industry, Europe, Middle East & Africa

You’ve heard the predictions: Nearly half of the world’s citizens will use the Internet by 2017—almost two-thirds of them on mobile devices. With this kind of citizen—and employee—uptake, governments are listening. By 2012, 25 countries worldwide had developed separate mobile websites and 24 had enabled citizens to make mobile payments, according to the United Nations. And Gartner expects the public sector’s enterprise spending on mobile to grow 4.48 percent annually through 2015. These developments are welcome. However, mobility is about more than just devices and apps. There are three key factors to successful deployments.

1. Make sure the infrastructure is manageable

Mobility for government services requires great server-side and device-side manageability. Make sure the infrastructure you choose can be properly monitored and maintained, no matter what types of device your workforce needs. Focus the search on systems that enable IT to deploy line-of-business applications easily, manage everything remotely—including what apps the users can run—and ensure secure access to information. The Scottish government chose Microsoft Windows 8 tablets with System Center Configuration Manager for manageability, with great results. 

2. Deploy a secure and flexible platform

Not all mobile operating systems are equal. High security is the baseline. If, like Scotland, your government agency has 1,000 employees who will use applications built on this platform, you can’t take chances with security. And when your employees have a range of requirements—some are office-based, others are field-based, and others are a hybrid—flexibility in your operating environment also becomes critical. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service deployed tablets running Windows 8 to give its nearly 800 prosecutors secure access to information whether they’re at a crime scene, in court, or in one of 20 offices.

3. Focus on the complete implementation

This means making usage scenarios and the user experience the top priority. The right choices in devices and apps matter, but so does the right rollout, training, and support. Look at each worker, and his or her devices and workflow. Think about what that person needs to be able to work at peak efficiency. Would access to any application from anywhere, on any device, be helpful? Are your employees familiar with the tools you’ve chosen, or will they need training to use them fully? And do you have a Help Desk ready to go when a field inspector has a password question or can’t get an app to work right? Trials and proofs of concept often improve execution. The Information and Communication Agency for Madrid tested a Windows 8 tablet solution with a small group to identify and resolve problems before a wider deployment. Read more about it—and other successful trials—in Redefining Government Mobility, the cover story in the latest edition of Touch Magazine.

Success with mobility requires a holistic approach. It’s not just about the cheapest device. It’s not just about the app you want to run. I urge you to consider all the factors—from infrastructure manageability to platform security to implementation strategy—around the mobile environment you’re creating. If you do, you’ll not only be keeping up with the trend—you’ll be improving the lives of your citizens and your employees. You’ll be maximizing your investments in e-government, social media, and citizen portals and self-service. In short, you’ll be tapping into mobile’s full potential to transform.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Or e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

David Burrows
Managing Director of Government Industry, Europe, Middle East & Africa

About the Author

David Burrows | Managing Director of Government Industry, Europe, Middle East & Africa

David leads engagement with government customers across EMEA on innovative business strategies using ICT to improve their effectiveness to make a real impact in their communities, regions, and countries.