The third survey into the adoption and use of mobile technology by the UK public sector, carried out by NDL, the Mobile Working Survey aims to investigate the changing landscape for the way field-based mobile devices are used in the public sector.

With more than twice the number of respondents interviewed than last year, this years survey is an even more comprehensive view of mobile working in the public sector.

The survey was carried out on the telephone in late Spring 2011 by NDL’s specialist survey team. In total there were 200 respondents from 140 local authorities, 20 housing associations and 40 health care organisations, the vast majority of whom are senior IT managers.

Key Report Findings

  • Personal Information Management (PIM) on mobile devices is almost ubiquitous, but is still largely restricted to senior staff. This is likely to change, with predictions of a growth in more widespread deployments.
  • Mobile Line of Business (LoB) deployments are growing but are still not universal. However, usage across organisations is likely to change significantly, with many far-reaching projects planned. The range of service areas being mobilised is also growing.
  • There has been a massive increase this year in the number of organisations reporting they have achieved cost savings through implementing mobile working. When other results which drive cashable savings are factored in, this amounts to a compelling case for introducing mobile working within the current cost-cutting agenda.
  • A lack of flexibility from the mobile application as well as some technology restrictions are now seen as the key reasons why mobile projects fail. Cultural resistance has fallen as a reason for lack of adoption but still remains a major barrier to projects getting off the ground. Fears over cost are also still preventing implementation, despite huge cost savings being reported by many organisations.
  • Respondents are demanding more flexibility from their mobile applications along with a corporate approach to mobile working, but these demands are still not being widely adopted.
  • The economy is having an effect on mobile projects but in many cases this effect is positive, with it accelerating the adoption of mobile working to achieve cost savings.

In the reports foreword, NDL’s Managing Director, Declan Grogan highlights:

Not since the arrival of the PC has there been as good an opportunity to improve the productivity of our working lives as offered by mobile working. But while the focus for the mobile world over the last 24 months or so has been taken up by Personal Information Management (PIM) and the use of personal ‘apps’, there is a quiet but amazing revolution taking place in the world of work.

The barriers to using these technologies – cost, equipment, networks, application availability and cultural acceptance – are tumbling down. We are seeing a recognition of the huge savings that can be achieved when we mobilise our workforces. Projects such as those NDL has been working on with its partners in local government, housing and health are producing a full return on any capital investment in three to four months – a far cry from the traditional public sector IT project where costs might be recouped in three to five years if indeed they ever really are.

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Related articles and survey

We are coordinating resources for sharing via a mini survey identifying innovative approaches to delivering public services to mobile devices. We would welcome your input. All participants will receive a copy of the subsequent survey report with an opportunity to join other participants face to face at an event planned for the middle of November.