Headlines: October 9th, 2006

PUBLIC SECTOR SLOW TO ADOPT MOBILE TECHNOLOGY

 

Mobile technology has substantial potential benefits for staff who work away from the office, but take up of the wide range of products on the market has been slow. Although the technology features in the Transformational Government programme which is the successor programme to e-government, there has been no push from the centre to encourage adoption of mobile technology.

Kable, the public sector research company, forecasts that UK IT public sector expenditure is set to increase from just under 900m pounds in 2004/05 to 4.3bn pounds by 2014/15 and a sizable slice of this expenditure is likely to be in mobile technology.

Whilst many reasons are given for the slow adoption rate, it is recognized that much more is involved than acquiring a new technical device, because changes in culture and working practices are needed. Staff may be worried that they will be constantly ‘on call’ once they are given a mobile device. Whilst management may feel that they are losing control if they do not have face-to-face contact with their staff. Added to this, many organisations have run into problems when they have tried to expand successful pilot schemes into comprehensive rollouts across departments and organisations.

Ed Williams, Head of Data Strategy at T-Mobile UK said: “Whilst adoption has been slow to date, there is much anecdotal evidence to suggest that those public sector organisations that are using mobile technology are already reaping many benefits.” One such organisation is Dundee City Council, which has used mobile technology to improve the efficiency and performance of a range of departments, including environmental health, trading standards, social work and housing benefits. The Council uses mobile technology to help social workers and council tax collectors and saved the time they used to spend travelling back to the office to fill in and file paperwork.