Mar 18 2016

Public Sector Forms Need Modernization for the Mobile Era

The rise in mobile device use over the past decade has drastically changed the way organizations interact with their customers. Not only do many consumers expect to be able to have interactions any time, from anywhere, but a growing number of Americans rely solely on their smartphones for internet access.

In the public sector, some government agencies have made great strides in developing mobile-optimized websites. However, industry has far surpassed government in key mobility efforts. Beyond the basic step of making websites mobile, many government sites have yet to truly make essential website functions and transactions mobile-friendly.

To be fair, modernizing website functions for mobile does take careful planning and execution. Transitioning the forms and information collection functions of a site to a mobile-enabled platform is a more complex process than just optimizing a website’s surface information for mobile consumption. A great number of businesses and organizations in the private sector still use paper forms to complete the most basic of processes, from time sheets to order forms, so it is not surprising that this is a challenge for government agencies as well.

Without mobile capabilities that support the forms that make up the key function of many government websites (e.g., paying a parking ticket or requesting a service), there’s little point in having a mobile site at all. Many of the mobile adaptations that government websites have made thus far are purely superficial, and don’t offer citizens the real, functional benefits that they need.

While this disconnect may be just a nuisance for some, for the growing number of people who rely entirely on their smartphones for Internet access, the public sector is doing an extreme disservice. It’s critically important that the forms and transactions that millions of people in the U.S. rely on every day, from immigration and visa requests to passport applications and tax information, are available and functional on all Web-enabled devices.

While we can’t expect the hundreds of thousands of state, local and federal government webpages to leap to the cutting edge overnight, citizens should expect and demand that the critical services they need from their government are accessible when and where they need them: via their mobile devices.

In fact, we know citizens expect more – a recent survey we conducted found that while nearly all citizens interact with their government at some point during the year, 78% find it frustrating to interact with the government in-person or by talking on the phone. 90% of citizens say interacting with government online saves time and energy, and 62% would feel more positive toward the government if more federal budget were allocated toward improving online tools. Government has a responsibility to serve citizens, and cannot effectively serve without reaching them in the ways they want to be reached.

The public sector has recognized this responsibility and is responding. The U.S. Department of State, which relies heavily on forms for passport applications, has taken a first step by creating an online tool to educate applicants on the information needed to apply for a passport to streamline on the process. Although you can’t yet apply for a passport on your phone, the State Department is taking the right steps to reach that goal.

The Bank of Montreal understood the need for a more streamlined process for credit card applications. By partnering with Adobe, the Bank of Montreal was able to simplify its credit card application process and ensure that the process worked across multiple devices.

The time has come for government agencies to modernize and provide their most needed services online, across all devices. We are proud for the work we’ve done to help agencies reach their constituents and look forward to working with the public sector to fully modernize online forms for government.