Mobility: Full Speed Ahead

Legacy apps and potential data loss must be considered

Eager to deliver faster, higher-quality healthcare to nine million military veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs in recent years acquired a sophisticated telemedicine system that is growing and evolving. VA has also redesigned its mobile apps to work with a variety of mobile devices. As a result, the system’s healthcare professionals are using mobile devices to access critical health information and communicate with colleagues and patients almost anywhere in the world.

Federal agencies, keen to meet demand for ubiquitous mobility, consider it a pillar of IT modernization. According to a Dell EMC survey, 93 percent of federal IT executives reported that mobility is one of the most important attributes of a "future-ready" agency, for federal employees and citizens.

The leadership at VA and other federal agencies understand that customers want to interact with government on their own terms, including the option of accessing digital services and communicating with agencies on mobile devices. Federal employees expect much the same – especially younger workers accustomed to constant connection. They typically expect to use mobile devices in their personal and work lives.

Indeed, growing demand for mobile-friendly access to applications, via the web, informs the Connected Government Act, passed by Congress in January. The law stipulates that federal agency websites used by the public should be mobile-friendly to the greatest extent possible. The Act also requires retrofitting legacy applications for the mobile era.

Agencies will continue to improve mobile apps, expand access to them and strengthen connectivity. Soldiers in the field rely on wearable mobile devices to communicate with other soldiers and access critical information. In the civilian world, agencies are developing more citizen-facing mobile apps, and a record number of federal employees use mobile devices to do their jobs.

Redeveloping existing applications for use by mobile devices, however, can be tricky. Interfaces must look good on different types of mobile devices and screen sizes – and work well on a variety of platforms.

To achieve their mobility goals, agencies typically look for a vendor that understands an agency’s mission and legacy applications.  A good partner can determine how best to optimize applications, whether to modernize legacy apps or completely rewrite them, and how best to mitigate the risk of data loss.