Mobile apps clearly provide better service. But, in local government, we applaud the potential benefits on the upside, while needing to demonstrate a variety of gains to justify allocating resources. Fortunately, smartphone apps are not just an expense; you can demonstrate tangible gains to efficiency, happiness, and resolution within your community.
There are so many considerations when your agency decides that it is finally ready to make the strategic move to mobile. It is now easier than ever to send your residents to a single place for all interactions and services that your agency delivers—not ten. When you are considering how to launch your seamless experience to extend your reach past the traditional city hall here are 5 mission-critical topics for your agency to consider.
Responsive vs. Native
For an unknown reason, many people in the local government tech space frame the conversation of responsive web versus native smartphone apps as an ‘either-or’ conversation. We argue, that the decision isn’t confined to one or the other. Just ask Facebook, LinkedIn, and your email inbox. All have been developed to support responsive web, and yet the majority of usage for all three happen inside an app. These developers know that the best mobile experience happens inside a native app.
Smartphones facilitate self-service, and not just when we’re “mobile”. Mobile phones are used equally while at home as when we’re on the go. While a typical live interaction with a citizen, either in-person or over the phone, can cost governments between $5-$10 per interaction, self-service portals reduce the cost to under $1 per transaction. Alone, this model generates 5-10x improved efficiency and reduction in staff resources.
In addition, the data provided by a smartphone is rich, in that it can include media, location information, and end-user data. As a result, your staff is provided far greater information with which to use in completion of providing service. As a result, a mobile device can help streamline communication, increase efficiencies through self-service, and allow you to reassign staff resources.
No User Manual Required
Who remembers typing class or computer education class? For the last several decades, we’ve spent education dollars teaching schoolchildren how to navigate through a PC.
Why isn’t there a smartphone or tablet ed class? Because the devices are made to be entirely user-friendly and intuitive. No training is required. No instruction manual is presented. Users know how to operate one, and that results in reduced resources and time required by your staff to support a mobile app.
Mobile Purchasing Power
In addition to taking up half of browsing, smartphones and tablets account for a third of purchasing. Governments are meant to serve, but they also must collect revenues to survive. Speed and ease of collection are driving forces behind mobile payments. More importantly, a smartphone is our most individual of devices and incorporates added security with finger-print and Face ID.
Data gathering, user demand, reduced costs, increased reach, and embracing tech trends are all solid justifications. The world is only going to be using mobile more; Gartner estimates 4.9 billion (with a B) connected devices are currently used, in 2020 that number will reach 25 billion! Modern local governments understand this trend and are building the foundation today to support this growth.
Framework for Every Department
We’re unabashed cheerleaders of mobile. But that doesn’t mean that we believe everything digital needs to go mobile. There is a time and place for in which the use case makes sense.
However, as we’re in the early days of pushing local government services to the smartphone, we can’t know each situation where an app does make sense. The same is true for your organization.
What we do know is that you shouldn’t purchase an app simply because a developer has built one, an existing vendor has bundled it in, nor because a department just “wants it”. Instead, we believe in using a mobile app framework with which to build new apps easily and quickly, and then measure the usage. There are several benefits to this approach.
First, each time you purchase a stand-alone app, you must build it, deploy it, and market it. Each step of the process can be done in-house or through a vendor. The final step, marketing, is necessary for any new citizen-facing initiative. But, if you can use an existing application and add new functionality to it, you can harness an app’s existing user base. By shifting away from standalone apps, to single mobile app framework, you can be agile in your approach to pushing out services via mobile. The ability to test, measure, and iterate quickly, is the best approach to managing development uncertainty.
Second, if you’re not taking a leadership approach to creating your mobile app strategy and approach, your organization will end up with a disjointed approach to mobile. The exact same approach happened with the web and the outcome was disastrous. In the early days of local government websites, it was common to see a free-for-all approach to creating URLs, building page layouts, and adding content. The results were messy websites that were difficult for the public to navigate. The same path can happen for organizations lacking the necessary leadership to create long term mobile strategy.