Local authorities have been at the forefront of the move to mobile IT during the past few years. Much of this directly relates to legislation such as the Gershon Report, which specifically cited mobile computing as a way to increase productivity.
Now wireless devices mean public sector employees can combine working in the field with compiling information in the office.
Project Nomad, set up by the former office of the deputy prime minister to help communities and local government develop mobile schemes, has only received a total of £4m funding for all local authorities in the UK. This means that cash-strapped councils are struggling to fund mobile working projects.
Opportunities are there for resellers to provide mobile working solutions to local governments, if they fully understand their needs.
In the private sector, growth and profit is a main concern. In the public sector, increasing efficiency, productivity levels, and correcting errors by streamlining operations is the focus. Tapping into these issues is vital. With a tablet PC or mobile device, a house inspector is able to capture data at source as opposed to when he or she returns to the office.
In terms of budget, it is important for resellers to understand the civil
service sales cycle and when budgets are put together, in order to take
advantage of spending any remaining budget before year end.
In addition, resellers may have to work more closely with public sector customers in terms of educating them as to return on investment (ROI) and deliverables.
Although ROI is a concern for the private sector, public scrutiny of council budgets tends to be high and more complicated. With less room for error, resellers may find themselves under greater pressure from public sector customers to prove the business case and value.
Local governments and their departments will need to see a line between any investment and what will be delivered to the citizen.
Once resellers understand these differentiators and approach with the benefits to the citizen in mind, they can begin to work more closely with local government customers to help them go mobile.
The need is there as is the central government support, albeit without huge financial assistance.
Nigel Owens is vice president and EMEA general manager at Motion Computing
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