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Optimising mobile performance for service delivery

Australians are enthusiastic adopters of mobile devices such and mobile is fast emerging as the dominant channel for accessing a dizzying array of digitally delivered services.

Australian Government agencies, like businesses, are embracing the potential of mobile by adapting websites and services, such as myGov, for convenient access to more innovative and personalised services — when and where they want to.

The imperative to deploy mobile technology for government service delivery has never been greater. Mobile access matters because of its ubiquity and connectivity. These devices travel with us. They know who we are, where we are, what websites we visit, who we talk to and even how healthy we are. The combination of mobility and connectivity means this data can be shared and aggregated.

Mobile accounts for about half of all transactions online and has penetrated every aspect of daily life, from bill-paying to movie watching to information gathering. Naturally, mobile technology has the potential to greatly simplify the way Australians access, and engage with, government services.

But behind the consumer-friendly face of mobile service access lies great complexity and an unrelenting demand from users for instant gratification. Fractions of a second can make all the difference between a great user experience and a “never again” one.

[pullquote] “Increasingly, consumerisation is driving agencies to support mobile services.” [/pullquote]

“When it comes to the internet, our expectations are enormous,” said Tom Leighton, the CEO of Akamai, the global leader in digital content delivery systems. “It has to be fast. We’re just not patient with the internet, no matter how we access it. If it doesn’t show up right away, we are inclined to go elsewhere. That’s bad for business.”

It’s also a challenge for cash-strapped governments everywhere trying to leverage the digital era for better user experiences for their citizenry, while maintaining best practice privacy and security benchmarks.

Akamai constantly asks its global private and public sector customers and partners what their users expect in terms of performance. We’re a demanding lot — our expectations are set by our last “best experience”.

Akamai’s research found that 49% users expected sub two-second load times; another 30% expected one-second and a surprising 18% expect instant gratification. Perhaps it’s not so surprising when we consider performance benchmarks are set by the digerati tech giants like Google and Facebook.

For a variety of reasons, mobile slows systems and service delivery down: cellular and wi-fi network speeds are variable; the devices — phones, tablets — have screen-size limitations and processor and memory constraints; and, even by internet-time standards, the pace of technological change in the mobile space is breathtaking.

“Increasingly, consumerisation is driving agencies to support mobile services,” said John Ellis — Akamai’s chief strategist, cybersecurity — who is visiting Australia next week for briefings with senior government agency executives. “It’s an opportunity to leverage, rather than a problem to be discouraged.

“But there are many challenges that come with that; maintaining security and privacy is expected by users while minimising the degradation of web/internet performance and page load times. On top of that, CIOs and digital managers have to solve integration issues with legacy systems and establish new policies to support digital-era work practices.

“It’s very hard for the average citizen to have any sense that mobile access and delivery is just a subset, though a critical one, of a more complex omni-channel digital service delivery system. But the reality for government leaders is this: managing and responding to citizens’ expectations has been permanently reset by digitisation in the private sector.”

Since ascending to the prime ministership, Malcolm Turnbull has articulated this reality for government agencies and the private sector. It is a 21st century leadership theme to better assess and cope with complexity and competition in all its forms.

One of the drivers of United States President Barack Obama’s digital push, former White House chief information officer Vivek Kundra, talked of the importance of a citizen-first strategy on a trip to Australia earlier this year. He told The Mandarin‘s David Donaldson:

“If you look at most governments, they’re spending a lot of money on what I call systems of record — ERP [enterprise resource planning] systems, supply chains, systems centred on databases and infrastructure — yet systems in the everyday lives of citizens, their customers, are far more sophisticated.

“They can use their mobile device to book a reservation to their favourite restaurant, catch a plane anywhere on the planet, or have a car pick them up and drop them off without exchanging any cash. So how do you close that technology gap when in everyday life citizens have an app for everything, yet when they deal with their government they have to hold on the phone, submit a paper form, or wait in a long line?”

Akamai’s Ellis added: “Digital service delivery … like ‘innovation’ can be mistaken as a nebulous catchall. It is used to describe a broad category of technology, content and processes loosely related to the internet. But, it has real meaning and application depending on what agency you are, whom your constituents are, how you want to reach and engage with them and make them feel safe and secure in that engagement.

“It’s a level of both technological and market sophistication that is only increasing in intensity.”

Author Bio

The Mandarin

The Mandarin staff journalists.