Public Sector Excels at Mobile Data
By Eric Lin, Thu Jun 17 23:00:00 GMT 2004

Public sector organizations in the UK are leading the way in mobile data- not just with email and intranet access, but actual applications for both citizens and employees.

State organizations are far ahead of private companies rolling out mobile services to employees and customers alike according to a survey by operator O2. Seven out of ten public agencies, from city councils to bus services, are adopting some sort of mobile technology.

Unlike private sector companies, which often "go mobile" by offering employees mobile access to email, public sector implementations are focused on data applications. O2 previously compiled a huge list of example applications from the UK and other countries. City repairmen receive their work orders on a smartphone and are able to send back signed forms when the job is completed. Garbage collectors are able to log graffiti and other problems by phone while on their routes. Residents can send a text request to learn when their bus is coming or receive a text reminder that they have a doctor's appointment coming up.

The UK public sector might be at the forefront of mobile data applications because there is a CRM National Program charged with assisting local governments (Councils) to improve relations with their constituents as part of the UK's eGovernment initiative. While the UK certainly has a large number of computer users, mobile phones are nearly ubiquitous. It makes sense then, that the Government has chosen to design public programs around mobile phones, and chosen to use them within their own agencies as well.

Private sector companies do not have the same responsibility to each customer as government agencies. They are hesitant to mobilize internal data services, instead choosing to provide employees with laptops and data cards. They are even more hesitant to add mobile CRM applications for consumers, as they are seen as costly and (in a worst case scenario) too open to the public or requiring too much support time. As public agencies in countries with strong mobile penetration add more public mobile data services, users will start to expect it from all organizations. As these expectations build, private companies will need to arm their employees and their customer service divisions with mobile solutions before they are replaced by companies who give customers the data they need on the device they use.