Government wrestles with public demand for apps

Photo by Fairfax County is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo by Fairfax County is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Software applications that work on mobile devices have invaded our world. There are thousands of them and the public at-large is quickly becoming addicted to them.

Apps, as they are commonly called, are designed to make life simpler and more efficient. Users love them and demand is at an all-time high.

Because of the demand, the marketplace has created ferocious competition for more apps – sophisticated ones that are user-friendly and adaptable to all types of mobile devices.

That creates a problem of great magnitude for public officials. Citizens like commercial apps so much, they expect the same type of apps from cities, counties, hospital districts, universities, state agencies and public school systems. Government officials are scrambling to respond as the world of application development explodes around them.

Users of apps are demanding. They are accustomed to very sophisticated apps built on leading-edge technology. Commercial apps are adapted to work on all types of mobile devices and every time there is a technology change, the apps are quickly upgraded, changed and/or modified. Technology is evolving so rapidly it creates a bit of havoc for public agencies. Cities, counties and school districts – as well as other public organizations – don’t have full time, in-house application developers with time to focus on apps.

About 80 percent of users will give a new app only one or two tries. If the app works perfectly, everything is good. However, if the experience is less than stellar, most users will never test the app again.

Researchers say that about 60 percent of users instantly delete an app that doesn’t work correctly or one that demonstrates inadequate performance. That’s a frightening statistic for commercial software developers, but a horrifying one for public officials trying to develop apps in-house. Considering the time, expense and continuous upgrading costs associated with this type of software development, public officials simply cannot afford to fail.

Complications continue because not many government IT officials live in the world of cutting edge technology on a daily basis. No matter how great the skills of in-house government IT professionals, many are unaccustomed to competing with global application developers – and yet they will be measured by them when users try new apps.

Demand for mobile apps will continue to escalate. Mobile phones and tablets will become even more common and universal. A recent research report found that, on average, people engage on smart phones 150 times a day – about once every six minutes during waking hours. As the expectations associated with apps becomes even greater, an abundance of collaboration between public and private partners will be created. There is simply no other scenario that can occur.

As public officials finds more innovative ways to improve and develop mobile apps, ensure that your firm is involved and let SPI help you win government business.