‘Going Mobile’ in Illinois Creates 400% Time ROI

Contributor: Jason Koestenblatt
Posted: 09/05/2017

It’s often believed the public sector lags in digital transformation, especially now with mobility standing as a key pillar of enterprise technology.

That’s not the case for the State of Illinois, which has plunged headfirst into mobile transformation, both for its citizenry and employees. Looking at the need for advancements in IT, the state implemented its Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT)“Going Mobile in Illinois” initiative led by Ramnath Cidambi beneath the executive leadership of  Secretary Designate and Chief Digital Officer Hardik Bhatt and Chief Technology Officer Mike Wons.  

With the proper pieces in place, DoIT embarked on enabling radical change in how work was done by state employees and how citizens and businesses interacted with the Government.

“You really couldn’t interact with the state via a mobile device,” said Wons. “The strategy was to improve the services the government delivers; and we wanted to mobile-enable all government interaction points. We also wanted to empower government workers with technology.”

So Cidambi, leader of the State of Illinois Mobile Development Lab and Chief Information Officer at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, began concentrating on which departments could most benefit from mobile transformation and how apps could enhance productivity. The team worked with agencies across the state and zeroed in on the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) workers and their processes.

“State employees would go check on foster kids, have to take a large amount of paper notes for each case, then go back to the office and put all that information into the state’s data system,” Cidambi said. “The process to do all that was very elongated.”

The mobile team looked at designing an app that would have the capability to capture all the necessary data, including photos if needed, that connected to the backend system directly while workers were out in the field. The app would also be used from a managerial standpoint, where supervisors were able to assign cases in real time and coordinate with workers in the field.

Because of the sensitivity of the information being processed, security was also paramount, and the state commissioned MobileIron for its device management across the enterprise, in large part due to its remote control and device wipe capabilities, Wons said.

Once the prototype was ironed out, the State – which operates in a Corporately Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) device setting – deployed the app to approximately 1000 case workers. The return on investment came in the form of time savings. The app helped DCFS collect data in the field to be entered into and processed in real-time by its backend system, adding significant efficiency to the business process.  The app reduced case note and investigation note entry time by 400% over the first few weeks of usage.  It improves access to child/family information at the time and point of care when it is most critical.

The app, which is clearly detailed but still evolving, is OS agnostic and useable on all devices. Because of the sensitive data, the team is very careful about what security protocols are used, Cidambi said. The DCFS app is only available through the MDM.

“Mobility isn’t just a phone; it’s much more than that,” Wons said. “And we’re really keen to that mindset. We have a “heads down” focus for government to embrace these new technologies, and we see mobility as a delivery platform for improving government services.”

As part of the “Going Mobile in Illinois” initiatives, the state has launched more than 50 apps and mobile responsive websites since the work began in August of 2016. Additionally, Illinois has established a new common container app where all Illinois apps can be accessed. Illinois worked with a creative mobile payment company, PayIt, to establish and launch a container app known as IllinoisFIRST, which is available in all stores and provides a one-stop shopping approach for finding anything and everything in Illinois.

While the majority of use cases for mobile technology in the public sector seems to be immature, Illinois is making a case for being a leader in the country and working at the speed of transformation.

Jason Koestenblatt
Contributor: Jason Koestenblatt