mobile user texting

With infrastructure in place, AF readies mobile HR app

The Air Force has plans for a mobile app that service members can use to get information on benefits, payments and retirement information.

William Marion, CIO of the Air Force’s personnel directorate, spoke at an Oct. 20 cybersecurity event hosted by Good Technology and announced formation of a tiger team to build the human resources mobile app.

“Building a more transactional-based mobile interactive front is really key to us right now,” Marion said, but he was blunt when discussing the Air Force’s adoption of mobile technology.

“We have moved very heavily into a web services infrastructure over the past couple years, but we are very light on the mobile front end -- very, very light,” Marion said. “Right now if you took one of our web pages and tried to shrink it on an iPhone, it’s not usable.”

Marion wants to do more than make web pages readable on mobile devices, however; he wants to improve the user experience as a whole because mobile devices are used by service members every day. He also believes the information should be available on whatever platforms users access.

While the Air Force has a “huge” number of HR functions that are web-enabled, those apps have not been ready for mobile users, Marion said, because the infrastructure was not complete.

“We had people who wanted to jump right to the application space, but we hadn’t secured and built the infrastructure for that,” he said.

“Over time we’ve chopped away at the blocks,” getting the infrastructure, connectivity and security set up, he said. Then the challenge was figuring out how to deploy at scale, which for Marion means for roughly 800,000 service members with the agility and speed of an enterprise management system.

Marion suggested that those beginning their transition to mobile should do the same.

“Build upon your foundation so that you keep progressing in your journey to true mobile-enabled operations -- because that’s ultimately the goal.”

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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