Government Agencies Grapple With Mobility Issues

State and local government agencies are making steady moves toward greater use of mobile technology. However, many are facing a number of obstacles as they try to become fully mobile, according to a new study.

The report from Mobile Work Exchange, a public-private partnership that aims to show the value of mobility and telework, finds that 40 percent of employees at the 150 state and local government agencies surveyed are using mobile devices for work-related tasks, and 17 percent are eligible to telework.

The study, “State & Local Mobility Map: Road to Mobile Readiness,” which was commissioned by Citrix, also shows that about 60 percent of government IT managers surveyed said their agency had adopted a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to support mobility.

Agencies are also supporting mobility through investments in secure remote connections, security enhancements and mobile device management (MDM) tools. About two-thirds (65 percent) of the state and local agencies said they expect the number of mobile workers to increase over the next five years. But the report also finds that nearly 60 percent of survey respondents said their agency is not mobile ready and does not adequately provide the plans, tools and support necessary to manage a mobile workforce.

Among the biggest concerns are security, cited by 56 percent of the respondents, and lack of budget, mentioned by 52 percent. Other challenges are a lack of technology infrastructure, (48 percent), management resistance (29 percent) and cultural barriers (23 percent). While some state and local government agencies are considered mobile-ready, others lack the needed training on security and general mobility practices to protect against security breaches.

In addition, only 40 percent of state and local government operations can be maintained in a disaster. Telework is a limited part of agency continuity of operations plans (COOP), and only 17 percent of respondents said their agency is both mobile- and COOP-ready.

Agencies that are mobile-ready report three additional hours of productivity per employee per week, according to the study. They cite benefits such as significant improvements in productivity (61 percent), remote communication (49 percent), increased collaboration (43 percent) and business continuity (43 percent).

More than one-third of the agencies surveyed have advanced their mobile strategy in the past year. Those that did not advance said they plan to invest in mobility in the future. IT managers within government agencies are looking at several key steps to achieving mobile readiness. These include end-user education (45 percent), enhancing IT infrastructures (45 percent) and improving IT training (37 percent).

“State and local government agencies continue to make great strides toward mobility,” says David Smith, director of state and local government at Citrix. “However, many face roadblocks by not thinking big in their approaches.”

The need for mobile technology continues to grow in order to drive increased productivity, more robust COOP and better constituent service. “It is imperative for agencies to overcome these roadblocks by taking an enterprise approach when tackling mobility, while also addressing infrastructure gaps, establishing incentives to spur mobile adoption, and expanding employee telework eligibility to increase agency operations and productivity,” Smith says.

To drive mobility efforts forward, “Agencies need to address security concerns, establish an infrastructure that supports mobility, incorporate telework into their agency’s COOP strategy, and provide continuous mobile training for end users as well as IT,” adds Steve O’Keeffe, founder, Mobile Work Exchange. “By taking these steps, agencies can build the business case for [state and local] IT leaders to invest in technologies to support mobility, empowering agencies to realize the vast benefits of increasing productivity while reducing costs.”