Oct 05 2011

NASCIO 2011: Mobility Moves Upward

New poll shows many CIOs considering citizen-facing apps.

Mobility is growing in importance to state IT leaders who are challenged with managing mobile devices and developing mobile applications for staff and citizens.

“Few CIOs give low priority to mobile devices and apps,” says Doug Robinson, executive director of NASCIO. According to a poll of state CIOs sponsored by Grant Thornton, NASCIO and TechAmerica, 58 percent of state CIOs deem mobile devices and apps essential or a high priority. Another 33 percent consider mobility to be a medium priority; 6 percent consider it to be a low priority and 2 percent say it is not a priority.

The report, “A New C4 Agenda: Perspectives and Trends from State Government IT Leaders,” is based on responses from IT leaders in 48 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories.

Among those polled, 37 percent say they are either ready or totally ready to deploy and support mobile devices and apps for the state workforce.

Whether state IT leaders are ready or not, workers are clamoring for mobile apps and access to mobile devices. Graeme Finley, director of Grant Thornton’s public-sector practice, says the current state of mobile implementation reminds him of the early 1980s. “Everything was on a mainframe, we had PCs on trolleys, and people rolled them down the aisles and borrowed them,” he says. “Now PCs are enterprise IT and mobile is exactly the same way.”

The study shows that 47 percent of state CIOs believe their states are engaged or totally engaged with citizen-facing apps. Discussing the results with a panel at NASCIO’s 2011 annual conference in Denver, Minnesota CIO Carolyn Parnell views mobile apps as a great opportunity.

“It’s happening in pockets around state government, but I think we need to elevate that,” says Parnell. “Even if they’re just one-off apps, states will be more visible to citizens.”

Parnell and her colleagues hope to be able to eventually implement a bring your own technology policy, noting that new IRS rulings may allow such initiatives.

When Parnell joined Minnesota several months ago, she told officials that she would be bringing her own Apple iPhone because she didn’t want to carry two devices. She has offered to help commissioners with that and says the fact that they will need to carry only one mobile device wins good will for the IT department.

Florida CIO David Taylor says mobile devices are in high demand for lines of business that have case managers or inspectors. Although his state hasn’t deployed many citizen-based apps, he sees that as the next wave.

The report points out that while mobility creates opportunities to improve service, IT leaders must recognize that it creates costs in security, development and ongoing maintenance.

For more coverage from StateTech Magazine on the 2011 NASCIO Annual Conference, check out our NASCIO Conference page.


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