End users in the federal government may be older than in the private sector, but they are just as anxious to use their beloved consumer technologies at work. They are, on the other hand, concerned that there will be insufficient training for their use.

David Chernicoff, Contributor

July 5, 2012

3 Min Read

The drive for consumerization of IT is alive and well in the federal government.

Despite the fact that the average worker in the federal government is 46 (13 years older than the average worker in the private sector), two-thirds of the government employees who were surveyed recently by Meritalk wished that the technology at work would keep up with the technology that they use in their private lives.

This is important because of the Federal Digital Government Strategy (DGS), which, among other things, has the goal to deliver government information and services to people via the web and mobile devices. And while age has been traditionally presented as a barrier to the adoption of new technologies such as mobile devices and social media, the reality is that over 90% of those surveyed bank or shop online, three-quarters have been using the web as a news source for more than three years, and almost two-thirds have been active in social media for at least three years.

What was seen in the survey is that the process and tools that the government has been directed to adopt are already in wide use by Federal employees on the personal side of their lives, and the majority are looking forward to seeing them be adopted by the business side. And while the most off-putting factor in using new technologies on the personal side of their lives is the cost of the latest and greatest tools (75% of the respondents), from a business perspective the main concern that there would not be enough training on the devices and services which would allow the user to get the most from the technology. Training was an issue to 42% of those surveyed, which seems to indicate that almost as many as 58% of federal workers just want to get on with business.

Almost two-thirds of those surveyed feel that it takes them longer to get used to new technologies at work than at home. This makes you consider that people personally invest in technologies that they find interesting and appealing and are self-motivated to get the most from their investments, and, of course, are interested in mastering their new tools. In the work environment, these same people may be less personally motivated, which fits in well with the survey results that show that the employee's number one concern is that there will not be enough training made available to master the new technologies.

Implementing the DGS will require that those responsible for delivering the information and services fully embrace the methods by which the data and services will be accessed. By embracing the consumerization of IT and making those devices and services part of the workflow of the federal government some of the other goals, such as openness and transparency will be more easily achieved as federal government employees become one of the first people to make use of the data and services rather than just the faceless bureaucracy that obfuscates it.

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