Australia’s long election campaign presents an opportunity for the major parties to outline their digital strategies for citizen engagement.
Digital has disrupted almost every aspect of our lives and organisations around the world are undergoing the tectonic shift that is digital transformation. Governments are not immune. As more of us choose to access information online, on any device, and wherever we are, governments need to transform their way of delivering services too. But simply putting government forms and information online won’t be enough. Governments need to put citizen experience at the centre of their digital transformation, making online interactions so compelling that people want to use them.
As Prime Minister Turnbull has acknowledged, governments can learn from customer engagement in the corporate sector, and the establishment of the Digital Transformation Office is a step in the right direction. For every business, the relationship with the customer is defined by the culmination of interactions that add up to the customer experience. We all recognize a bad experience when we see it; we don’t want to be treated like an anonymous number, we don’t want to browse an outdated website, we don’t want the PC, mobile and tablet experience to be the same, and we don’t want to be offered a special on something we just bought. For all of us as customers, our tolerance for bad experience is low, and our expectations are incredibly high. For governments, the challenge is to deliver a citizen experience which mirrors what people are used to and expect from the corporate sector.
In Australia, parts of the corporate sector are well advanced in their journeys of digital transformation. The banking and finance sector has been a leader, along with the major telco’s and the media and entertainment sector. These businesses understand the value of delivering amazing customer experiences, and are leveraging the data they have access to. Delivering these compelling, personalised experiences is possible from government agencies too, and cost savings and efficiencies will follow.
Leveraging data will be the key to governments transforming large departments into nimble agencies with the ability to adjust services to meet individual needs. This will require governments to move beyond digitization. With access to deeper citizen insights, governments will be able to offer tailored services, which can be adjusted in real-time depending on a citizen’s needs. Imagine the convenience of pre-filled forms that can be signed and submitted from your tablet wherever you are; if you experience a problem making a claim, imagine personalised assistance being offered immediately; imagine proactive engagement when it’s time for your child’s next vaccination. All of this is possible with the right technology and strategy.
Digital transformation will require significant changes within departments and agencies and there will be challenges. There are three key components of digital transformation: people, process and product.
When it comes to people, digital transformation will require the internal culture of departments and agencies to change dramatically. Teams will need to accept and embrace the concept of ‘always-on’ service delivery in a 24/7 world. For example, instead of developing a public information campaign, delivering it and waiting to see if it has any impact, digital will allow for continual moderation, testing and iteration. Real-time testing will provide the ability to understand different audiences, target content at the citizen level and see what messages are resonating. Importantly, campaigns can be adjusted based on hard data, not just gut feeling. Leveraging data and delivering services across devices and platforms will require new skillsets. Departments and agencies will need people with data and analytics skills, as well as new media and social media skills.
Changing processes is key to successful digital transformation. Departments and agencies have access to vast amounts of data and with citizens able to touch many parts of government, bringing this data together will be crucial. Breaking down silos and shifting to an ‘always-on’ mentality will require new, more stream-lined processes across government.
Investing in the most suitable products or technology will also be important and will form the backbone to transformation.
As people become more focused and reliant on digital, those departments and agencies which embrace digital transformation and invest in the right technology and people will see the benefits. Citizens will be inspired by engaging, personalised experiences and governments will reap the benefits of cost savings and efficiencies. I look forward to seeing the digital strategies of the major parties in the lead up to the election on 2 July.