No sector symbolises the transformative power of digital quite like government.
Government and the Global CEO, a March 2015 study conducted by PwC, found that government digitisation can create opportunities for better self-service, customisation and automation – benefits that could create sweeping wins for performance and turn existing operating models on their head. It also discovered that 64% of state-backed CEOs are concerned about the speed of technological change, a statistic that highlights the importance of creating a digital roadmap that works.
Malcolm Turnbull has started to take strides towards realising this digital vision. Earlier this year, the Minister for Communications announced the launch of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO), an agency that draws on the revolutionising power of technology to improve the government’s relationship with customers and stakeholders. The DTO formally begins this week, July 1.
The interim DTO released a Digital Service Standard, a blueprint for service delivery that combines the rigour and transparency offered by traditional procurement processes with contemporary methods that encourage open innovation, putting old, siloed ways of working to rest for good. The DTO has already responded to some of the initial feedback to that standard.
Here are three factors worth considering when it comes to digital transformation from a government perspective.
Gain government-wide buy in
If you think about digital transformation in terms of creating online replicas of offline models and fail to ensure that relevant agencies and departments subscribe to your digital missive, you may want to reconsider. The Digital Service Standard is based on the understanding that the best public sector digital strategies are those that have gained cross-department buy-in from and are based on a transparent, central vision. They also ensure that staff incentives line up neatly with KPIs.
There’s a reason that the UK government often gets top billing in conversations about how to best create streamlined, accessible services for the digital citizen, both in Australia and around the world. In 2012, the government created the Government Digital Service, a unit charged with the mammoth task of overturning the ways in which its 62 million citizens engaged with 24 government departments and 331 agencies across the country. But despite these daunting logistics, the unit was able to minimise internal conflict and gain government-wide buy-in, regularly publishing its targets and involving digital experts from various departments and agencies. According to its 2013 Government Digital Strategy Annual Report, reigning in IT spend and moving services onto digital platforms saved £500 million between 2012 and 2013. Given that the PwC report found that 72% of state-backed CEOs view fiscal deficit as a serious threat, this ability to harness the cost-cutting potential of digital is one all governments could stand to embrace.
Put the end user first
In May 2015, the DTO announced its commitment to an important imperative – one that strives to stamp out barriers to self-service and puts the user journey at the heart of its transformation efforts. For instance, the Federal Government’s new $485 million e-Health project, which sees every Australian equipped with a comprehensive digital health record as well as the power to suppress confidential information as they move between providers, is a shining example of this commitment towards putting the end user first.
The Netherlands has also benefitted from this wisdom. In 2011, the Dutch government made a concerted effort to prioritise the user and cut red tape by transforming municipalities into ‘citizens’ desks’, which serve as the first point of contact for customers seeking answers to queries or concerns related to government-related services. The citizens’ desks, which are supported by a website, call centre and single phone number, create a seamless experience for the user by making government interactions easy-to-navigate, transparent and approachable.
Make the right investments
The DTO also plans to tailor its digital policies around data gleaned from intensive research into users’ behaviours, preferences and needs. For instance, the May 2015 Australian Federal Budget saw the government allocate $255 million to deliver a centralised myGov service that grants customers with a digital inbox complete with voice authentication and digital identity services – an investment that eliminates duplication and unnecessary steps.
The Singapore government also offers a lesson in the importance of making the right investments. According to an April 2015 AsiaOne report, the Asian city-state, which won acclaim for a 2011 government project that improved efficiency across the healthcare sector by digitising its citizen’s medical records, announced plans to launch its first Software Design and Development Centre of Excellence. The centre, which comprises coders, project managers and engineers, will draw on customer insights captured by the government’s existing online systems to design the next generation of government e-services in line with citizen’s expectations, user habits and needs. By rejecting the misconception that there’s a quick fix for digital transformation in favour of a more sustained approach to IT research and investment, Singapore is in a good position to reach its goals.
From gaining agency-wide buy-in to prioritising the user, ushering in successful digital transformation for government depends on an ability to abandon quick solutions in favour of a holistic and integrated approach. What do you think it takes to launch a digital change strategy that delivers results?