Federal mobile performance excelling, but room for improvement remains

The federal government often receives an unfair reputation for failing to embrace new technologies in a timely manner. While there are certainly examples of this, it is also true that federal agencies are frequently on par with private sector firms when it comes to implementing new IT solutions. In some cases, the public sector even outpaces private companies.

The realm of mobile IT may be an example of the latter trend. As the ForeSee E-Government Satisfaction Index recently made clear, consumers tend to be quite satisfied with their experiences using federal mobile websites and applications. At the same time, though, there is reason to believe that an increased focus on mobile application development could lead to even greater performance among the government's mobile offerings. 

"Government mobile websites and apps received an average satisfaction score of 79 out of 100."

Federal mobile success
The ForeSee E-Government Satisfaction Index included insight from more than 250,000 individuals regarding their experiences with and perceptions of a significant number of federal and private sector websites and apps. Specifically, participants were asked to address whether their expectations were met, how the product compared with their ideal solution and how they would rate the overall experience. This report found that the government's mobile websites and apps received average satisfaction scores of 79 out of 100 in the first quarter of this year. By comparison, the satisfaction rate for mobile offerings from financial services providers, retailers and the utilities industry averaged to only 75 points. 

The report noted that consumers who have positive experiences with mobile websites and apps are likely to revisit those offerings, as well as recommend them to others. Furthermore, ForeSee suggested that success in these areas can have a profound impact on government-citizen relations overall.

"The ultimate goal of agencies is to ensure concerned citizens have the utmost confidence in the government that is serving them," said Dave LeWan, vice president of ForeSee. "The digital experiences federal organizations provide play a vital role in achieving that mission."

Room for improvement
At the same time, the ForeSee report also emphasized that there is still significant room for improvement among federal mobile platforms. Specifically, the report recommended that agencies focus on priority areas, including layout and navigation. By doing so, satisfaction rates will quite possibly continue to rise.

"There are differences between mobile best practices for the government and private sector."

To achieve this goal, business intelligence and analytics may be invaluable, as David Cooper, mobile applications program lead at the Department of Defense's National Center for Telehealth and Technology, recently highlighted. Speaking at the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit at the GSA headquarters in Washington, Cooper emphasized that there are distinct differences between mobile best practices for the federal government and private sector companies, FierceMobileGovernment reported. 

"What's a good KPI for the private sector is not always a good KPI for us," said Cooper, according to the source.

Furthermore, Cooper pointed out that many of the widely available mobile analytics tools are specifically intended to be used in conjunction with Facebook. Such resources will simply fail to deliver the insight that federal agencies need to improve and expand their mobile websites, apps and other offerings.

This leads into the broader issue of public sector vs. private sector mobile platforms. As Cooper indicated, needs and goals vary between these two areas, and federal efforts need to take those distinctions into account. That is why federal agencies should work with third-party consulting firms with robust public sector experience in mobile platform development, as well as business process improvements. Choosing a partner whose experience is limited to the private sector will likely lead to complications, inefficiencies and a less rewarding, successful experience for constituents as they increasingly utilize government mobile resources.