Although federal spending doesn’t offer clear data on mobile technology in government, it does demonstrate growth — but new, ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policies could throw a wrench into prediction models. A wrench that might point to potential opportunities for government IT contractors.
Since dependable information resources such as the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) don’t track specific growth in the mobile sector, we had to use a few other ways to answer our questions about how mobile is the federal government today.
Thankfully, we had access to a Deltek analyst to research for an answer for businesses that are looking to invest in their readiness for mobile opportunities.
First, there are several important caveats to keep in mind:
The data aren’t granular enough to give a clear indication as to purchases of desktop devices vs. mobile devices, or even clarity around laptops versus tablets versus smartphones. Also, products are often bundled with services that limit their visibility.
Even with those cautions, however, it is possible to pull out some meaningful data.
From FY 2008 through FY 2011, government data show a 7% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) in funds spent on procurements that are clearly identifiable as mobile. That equates to roughly $615 million.
That number is just a start, as less transparent procurements often don’t divide between desktops vs. mobile devices, or services that might be related to mobile.
Interestingly, FY 2012 numbers were low for mobile products. Our analyst suggested an explanation — that the “end-of-fiscal-year buying frenzy and the delays in procurement reporting” meant that the numbers currently show a lower amount. We’d expect that the final yearly number would be higher when the final reporting comes in.
Yet that likely isn’t the only reason. The government’s recent embrace of BYOD policies may also be a factor, as employees using their personal mobile devices to access their government data lowers the cost of hardware and shifts mobile provisioning, network services, VPN and mobile security to a more IT-centric services and support budget.
What’s the takeaway for companies that sell to the government? If BYOD is growing, contractors might want to consider marketing services that target agencies that let employees use their own equipment.
A 7% CAGR clearly shows that there’s some stability in government mobile purchases. And, we should point out, actual numbers are certain to be higher.
So how mobile is government? The true answer might be hard to find, but we can see that mobile is growing and interest in businesses with technological expertise in mobile communications is likely to grow as well. If your firm is in IT and doesn’t already have a mobile strategy, a 7% CAGR and the adoption of new BYOD policies are good reasons to start preparing for what might be your company’s next opportunity.
Micheal Mullen is a senior editor for GovWin.com. You can reach him at email@example.com, or follow him via Twitter @idiottech.