Josh van Tonder

November 30, 2010

Happy citizens vs. happy customers

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I recently participated in a panel discussing how concepts of customer centricity in the private sector can translate to use in the government.   The private sector has significantly increased its focus and understanding of customer experience.  In recent years, companies have added specific management roles dedicated to Customer Experience and have also refined how to measure the quality of a customer’s experience.  The measurement of customer experience is equally important for government.  How are companies measuring customer experience and how does this translate to use in government?

4:49 PM Permalink
November 8, 2010

Adobe Government Assembly 2010: Better Citizen Engagement

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The 2nd Adobe Government Assembly was held last week in Washington D.C. Over 500 attendees gathered to discuss innovative ways to engage with citizens more efficiently. The major topics of discussion centered on improving engagement on the web, across mobile devices, using the cloud, and using social media.

Blue Ribbon Panel: Rob Pinkerton, Tom Davis, Gwynne Kostin, Craig Kaucher, and Alan Cohn

Blue Ribbon Panel: Rob Pinkerton, Tom Davis, Gwynne Kostin, Craig Kaucher, and Alan Cohn

One recurring theme in both the keynote and the Blue Ribbon Panel was about the future of engagement as citizens shift how they access the Internet. In particular, this means preparing to engage constituents across multiple screens. In the opening keynote Shantanu Narayen, Adobe’s CEO, discussed technology trends that will affect Internet access in the future.

2:50 PM Permalink
October 28, 2010

Using Mobility and Correspondence Tools to Improve Case Worker Efficiency

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Earlier this week at the Adobe MAX conference, the new Adobe LiveCycle Suite ES2.5 was announced. There are a number of new aspects to the release but I want to focus on a two pieces that government agencies might find particularly useful–mobility and correspondence. This new release makes it much easier for government agencies to manage citizen correspondence and to empower mobile staff such as case workers or inspectors.

4:19 PM Permalink
October 8, 2010

Mind the gap: self-service vs. assisted-service

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While I was at the Ohio Digital Government Summit this week, I was reminded of the challenge governments have balancing self-service channels vs. assisted service channels. My co-presenter discussed some statistics on citizen Internet usage from Connect Ohio’s 2010 technology assessment survey (see survey here). There were a couple items in this data that highlighted the situation governments face when optimizing channel interactions with constituents.

3:52 AM Permalink
September 22, 2010

Turning modernization upside down

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Last week, I presented in Illinois about approaches to application modernization in government. The room was packed. I think this is a reflection of the multiple trends in government making modernization both more pressing yet even trickier to navigate. Agencies need to modernize because systems are old, budgets are slim, and demand for services is higher than ever. I routinely talk to agencies that are running enterprise system built in the 70’s. These systems are tricky to update to reflect policy changes and it’s getting harder to find qualified people to do the updates. Systems are strained because the economic situation has driven case loads through the roof—as an example; some states have seen TANF caseloads increase 20-30% in the last year. Yet, budgets have gone the other way—state budget shortfalls of 10%+ are the norm. This means agencies are looking to modernize technology to both save money and to more efficiently deliver services.

5:51 PM Permalink
September 3, 2010

Interviews with Open Government Innovators

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The inaugural GovFresh event this Wednesday offered a compelling glimpse at how to deliver on the open government promise.   After the event, we had a chance to chat with number of the event’s speakers and then pull their perspectives together into a short clip.   This clip highlights how government innovators and entrepreneurs are leveraging open government to drive environmental stewardship, advance public safety, speed public service, and foster innovation.  See the video below.

Overall, the event offered insight from both sides of open government equation: innovators and citizens using government information and governments making data available.   For those on the government side, you might also find the event’s Q&A particularly valuable (see the event replay starting at 1:01:50).  Many agencies are still struggling to define their open government strategy and allocate resources in order to make information easy to find, use, and trust for the public.  In the Q&A Chris Vein, San Francisco’s CIO, offers a perspective based on their experience overcoming many of the tricky practical issues governments are dealing with when it comes to opening up government data.

7:37 PM Permalink
August 5, 2010

The citizen experience: to guide or not to guide?

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Earlier this week I presented at the Federation of Tax Administrations Technology Conference in Atlanta. This event looks at how technology can be used to improve and streamline state tax collection and administration. While many of the sessions dealt with some tax specific issues, these agencies shared many the same challenges other government agencies deal with when interacting with their constituents. One question that came up on a couple different occasions centered on the right way to optimize the experience offered through self-service channels so that work can be shifted away from high-cost channels (like paper processing or call centers). In particular the question was: will people adopt self-service channels more with guided online interactions or an electronic form that resembles a paper form?

4:59 PM Permalink
June 23, 2010

Only 35 applications stand between you and your new small business

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A couple days ago in Minneapolis, my co-presenter John Miri (a Senior Fellow at Governing’s Center for Digital Government) threw out a provocative statistic. In one state (which I won’t name), an entrepreneur could have to file up to 35 different permits, applications, or licenses across 14 different agencies to start new restaurant. This is just state agencies. It doesn’t include interactions needed for city, county, or federal regulations. As you might imagine, this can be quite a burden on both small businesses and the agencies themselves to ensure compliance.

I don’t want to suggest it’s a problem unique to the above state. In fact, there has been a fair amount of work done to try and understand how regulation and compliance affects businesses and agencies worldwide.

9:30 AM Permalink
May 10, 2010

Opening up government data using standardized interfaces

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Last Thursday San Francisco City Hall hosted the event, Open APIs for government. Participants gathered to hear speakers discuss some techniques for exposing government data to developers and the benefits to citizens of doing so.

8:24 AM Permalink
April 16, 2010

Using Social Media to Connect with Taxpayers

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In a flurry of last minute filing, the tax season drew to a close yesterday. The filing process is one where you, the tax filer, and tax agencies hope that the filing goes smoothly. For you, errors in your tax return could mean delays in getting refunds and wasted time. For tax agencies, incomplete filings or errors mean slower and more costly processing. To help avoid issues and make it easier for taxpayers, innovative agencies like the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) are turning to social media to help educate and communicate.

4:30 PM Permalink