4 Tools Governments Use to Achieve Digital Transformation
As governments deal with budget cuts, smaller staffs and changing demographics, many agencies are spending most of their budget on operations and maintenance of legacy IT applications. Unfortunately, that means governments are relying on systems that scale poorly and are rarely built to meet their needs.
Historically, we’ve seen a major gap between the delivery and quality of services in the private sector compared to what we experience in the government sector. However, the gap is closing as trends and development in the private sector are migrating toward the public sector. Digital technologies are fundamentally changing how agencies perform and serve the public.
Let’s take a look at four trends:
The use of the cloud is one of the fastest growing areas of technology in the government. According to Gartner, national governments spend 22 percent of their IT budgets on cloud services, while local governments spend 20.6 percent. It’s predicted that the use of public cloud services will grow by 17.1 percent by 2021.
State and local governments often work together to serve the public, such as building roads, operating schools and providing aid during times of crisis. Now they’re using cloud-based solutions to work together across agencies to improve citizen services.
Cloud-based platforms create new integrations and eliminates the need to set up hardware, application servers and databases. And in many cases, adopting a Software as a Service (SaaS) business solution is the first step in modernizing the agency. Utilizing the cloud gives local and state governments the ability to do more with limited budgets and increase the agility of employees so they can free up resources to focus on new initiatives.
In summary, a government agency can cut waste and deliver constituent services faster.
As consumers in the private sector, we can make payments, find information and receive customer service through apps and automated systems. There’s an ease in being able to access services from mobile devices anywhere at any time. Not only is it beneficial for citizens to have the same quality of services, but it’s also a benefit to government employees. With mobile devices, government employees will be able to effectively perform their duties anywhere they are and with the security IT demands.
When D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser kicked off the 8th Annual Potholepalooza in 2016, the district decided to take a different approach with the technology the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) would use to fulfill requests. Work crews used software on mobile devices to find potholes with advanced mapping and take photos after each repair. Once the jobs were completed, citizens could see an updated status within an hour by checking an interactive map that was connected to DDOT’s live service request database.
Developing citizen apps for public libraries, motor vehicles and public works will boost government efficiency by reducing paperwork and automating tasks. Plus, it creates new opportunities for engagement with communities.
Contrary to beliefs that a move toward a mobile-first strategy would alienate certain populations, improving mobility of services bridges the digital gap. According to the Pew Research Center, the reliance of a smartphone to gain online access is especially high for young adults, non-whites and low income Americans. Many residents that do not have the time to spend 30 minutes on hold to report a problem can complete their request using a smartphone. Governments that can reach more people can change the relationship it has with its citizens.
Every year, federal employees devote tens of thousands of hours to low-value compliance activities. The White House says that five percent of government jobs could be automated entirely, where 45 percent of “total work activities” could be automated government wide. There is an incredible opportunity to automate repetitive administrative tasks, stream-line processes and engage the federal workforce in more meaningful work that improves services to citizens. The same goes for state and local governments as well.
In Cape Coral, Fla., the city has prioritized automating departmental tasks to increase productivity. Everything from paying business taxes, scheduling permit inspections, submitting 311 requests and complaints to the police can all be done online. Realizing the benefits of automation has improved customer experience and constituent services.
Using chatbots and artificial intelligence to create a more citizen-centric experiences give residents a quick and easy way to request assistance and other avenues of accessibility. Automating workflow will also ensure your forms are accessible to users with disabilities and in compliance with ever-changing regulations. There are fewer errors and greater accuracy when a robot is complete routine and repetitive tasks.
A successful digital transformation requires strong leadership. It’s not enough to solely invest in technologies. Governments must get buy-in from all stakeholders, acquire the people and technical skills to deliver the digital services, train staff and learn how to solve for critical needs. The goal is to transform the business, not just the IT systems.
The rollout of the Forever GI Bill, which allows military veterans pursue educational opportunities for life, recently failed due to a lack of clear leadership. People involved were unclear of their roles which led to inadequately defined expectations, miscommunication and no infrastructure on how to solve problems when they arose. In the end, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs could not handle the intricacies of changes for more than 400,000 claims, resulting in students to be underpaid or not paid at all.
Governments that focus on value and prioritize the public services that are most important to constituents will always be the most successful.
In conclusion, selecting the right systems, delivery and approach creates proactive and productive governments. By adopting solutions that improve workplace efficiency, you’ll also improve the lives of citizens.
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