Mobility: It’s not just about devices and apps


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It was perhaps an unexpected remark for a government mobility conference.

“I thought about titling this presentation, ‘It’s not all about mobile,” said Phaedra Chrousos, an up and comer at the General Services Administration, as attendees of FedScoop’s MobileGov Summit chuckled.

Chrousos, an associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies/18F and GSA’s chief customer officer, leads a team of 230 engineers and technologists who help other agencies develop, learn about or buy technologies. And too often, she said at the event Wednesday, CIO shops come to her agency assuming that what they need is a mobile app.

Instead, agencies should focus on the users and determine what they need. The government, she said, needs to be device agnostic.

“We’re really looking to be responsive to our customers’ needs, not just focus on a mobile device or a mobile app, per se,” said Chrousos, who FedScoop recently named one of D.C.’s Top 50 Women in Technology.

One app that exemplifies placing a premium on the “customer journey” is PTSD Coach, she said. Created by the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the app is meant to help service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The app helps identify how stressed the user is and offers the user coaching sessions to relax. It also has an “SOS” feature for users who have a very high stress level.

In designing the app, developers mapped out how it should function with the help of psychologists who treat PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD can arise at any time throughout the day, so choosing to use an app made sense, Chrousos said.

“They really took the time to work with psychologists and work with end users to really understand their journey,” she said.

Earlier in the day, two representatives from Hewlett-Packard Co. also outlined the importance of understanding the customer. Raymond Holder, client executive for federal health care and mobility solutions for HP Enterprise Services, said agencies that up their mobile game have a seemingly unexpected benefit: They increase governance.

“If you provide the things people want the way they want, you get more people working with the system,” he said.

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18F, Agencies, General Services Administration (GSA), mobile and wireless, mobility, Tech