Citizens want to interact digitally with government. It’s not just the young. People of all ages are happy to have service delivered digitally as long as they are targeted, easy to use and secure. Personalization not only offers a better citizen experience, it can deliver the holy grail of agile, low cost operations. All it takes is a new era of information sharing between government, NGOs, businesses, communities and individual citizens. So, where do we go from here?
It’s time to re-assess. I want to suggest that the first generation of digital Government – think of it as eGovernment 1.0 – is reaching its conclusion. We knew there was a need to deliver services digitally and we wanted to be able to provide them on the channel that the citizen prefers. It would radically improve citizen experience and make our operations more efficient.
Well, there’s some good news and there’s some bad news.
The good news is that digital adoption has been a success. Over 40% of respondents to a recent survey reported that the majority of their interacts with government were digital. Almost 90% stated that they want to maintain or increase their digital interactions.
The bad news? Only a quarter of the people surveyed by Accenture were actually satisfied by their digital interactions with government. Consider that the respondents’ top five priorities included ‘the ability to have my question answered definitively’ (91%), to ‘be able to see the status of my request or activity’ (79%) and ‘information organized by my need or issue'(69%) when it came to digital public services. It’s clear the investment made in digital government has yet to consistently deliver the level of information and personalization that citizens want.
UK government minister, Ben Gummer has stated that although their digital services ‘delivered excellent web interfaces that better met user needs, back-office processes were often unchanged. In eGovernment 1.0, our focus on citizen experience – while perfectly justified – is failing to deliver the full benefits of Digital Transformation’.
So what about eGovernment 2.0? McKinsey says ineffective governance; a lack of web capabilities and a reluctance to allow user involvement have held eGovernment 1.0 back. I’d like to add something a little more fundamental to that list: a model of information sharing at the heart of service provision and delivery.
This is implicit in how the OECD defines ‘digital government‘ which, it says, relies on an ‘ecosystem composed of government actors, non-governmental organizations, businesses, citizens’ associations and individuals, which supports the production of access to data, services and content through interactions with the government’.
This requires a new ethos for the sharing information in a sector where even different departments within the same government organization have jealously guarded their own turf. To fully benefit from digital government, the walls have to come down between departments and agencies while becoming much more porous when dealing with the private sector and the individual citizen.
Personalized Public Services
In order to achieve the ambition of the personalization of service, governments have to move from the position of service provider to service facilitator or broker. The citizen needs to be able to self-select and self-manage if personalization is to be fully adopted. There has to be an acceptance that this is not something that government can achieve by itself – and, in fact, there are great benefits to be achieved in terms of cost of taking a partnership approach with citizens and private enterprise.
We will see an increase in the co-creation of services as we move into eGovernment 2.0. There is plenty of evidence of it beginning to happen. The US Smart Cities open data initiative is a great example of encouraging government, the private sector, NGOs and citizens to collaborate and jointly develop solutions.
Underpinning this collaborative approach to delivering co-created personalized services has to be a government platform that allows for the open and secure exchange of information. There has to be a means to centralize access to all content in order that all parties can access and interrogate all the information – both structured and unstructured data – surrounding an issue or service.
While the current focus has been on the creation of ‘open’ data that anyone can access, reuse or distribute, there has to be a move towards an Enterprise Information Management approach that can deliver the single view of service information.
There are, of course, many challenges – not least the difficulty of sharing sensitive information between public and private sector organizations. The passage of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act to enable information sharing between public and private bodies on something as uncontentious as tackling Cybercrime shows the complexity opening the exchange of critical data.