The last two years have changed the way we communicate and how we interact. They have taught government organizations where the weak links in their services are and why digital transformation is so crucial. Let’s explore a few of the big lessons the government sector has learned about what their digital presence should offer, as well as the top considerations for their digital transformation efforts.
During the peak of the pandemic, communities around the world were thrown into unprecedented uncertainty. With more questions than ever and no possibility of visiting (or getting through to) local offices, citizens took their requests and inquiries online. Local government organizations faced uniquely challenging service and responsiveness difficulties at a time when their customers needed them most.
It's more important than ever for these organizations to assess how and where they are investing their resources and how they can meet their digital goals. In this article, we’ll dive into these key areas.
Where governments should be investing their resources
1. Putting the citizen first
One of the most impactful trends and top drivers for digital transformation in local government is putting the citizen at the core of services and their needs at the center of the digital experience.
The most successful organizations are placing their focus on technology that helps enhance communication and connection with constituents, keeps them informed, and gives them access to essential services, while also ensuring the highest achievable level of WCAG 2.0 A and AA compliance.
Cloud solutions enable governments to streamline processes while saving resources, so it’s no wonder many are deploying the latest in cloud technology across their organizations, unlocking the troves of invaluable data that comes with it in order to improve user experiences.
By delivering personalized experiences that resonate with users and breed trust; providing prominent search capabilities to help them find information they need without having to dig through layers of menus; creating more intuitive experiences and enabling users to self-serve with online forms are all helping government websites to radically transform the government-citizen relationship.
2. Taking a truly connected approach
Of course, all this requires deeply connected technology that’s up to date.
Subscription-based solutions ensure you’re always working with the latest and greatest innovations and that you never have to worry about maintenance or upgrades. And with governments always expected to do more with less, a flexible, affordable, and reactively scalable solution should be your number one priority.
Earlier this year, we ran an exclusive virtual conference, “Bouncing Back Better: Digital Trends in Government 2022”, organized in collaboration with digital services agency ICEMEDIA, explored some of the opportunities and challenges that state and territory governments currently face.
Dean Corcoran, Chief Technology Officer for Partners at Microsoft, spoke about the importance of underlying technology, reminding us that every organization can be broken down into its; people (digital employee productivity), processes (digital business function), and tools (digital innovation and infrastructure), which of course, should all overlap. In order to ensure all three are working optimally, you want to make sure that your technology is able to leverage these intersections to maximum effect. Your data from all your various applications and tools should be fed into one central hub of truth, through which you collaborate with colleagues, and from which you serve your ‘customers’.
Only a holistically integrated technology stack enables you to put your constituent right at the center of your efforts.
3. Empowering the individual
Dean shared that while Microsoft makes the technology that enables powerful things to happen, it’s actually at the bottom of the value stack. Partners like Kentico wrap this technology in tools that enable organizations to actually leverage it. And agencies like ICEMEDIA customize those tools to fit the specific needs of a particular organization.
But the true power of digital transformation lies in the impact it has on individual employees. How it directly impacts the various roles in your organization—from your CXO, to your middle managers, from healthcare workers, to maintenance staff. How does it improve efficiencies, reduce friction, boost productivity, and enhance performance?
If you can empower each employee with a daily flow that matches the way they need to work so that it accurately represents the type of work they do, allows the access they require, enables workflows that enhance productivity, and provides personalized dashboards that make sense to the way they see their work, then you put power behind the entire mechanism of your organization.
Thanks to the democratization of coding with low-code/no-code solutions like Kentico, organizations are able to take more control over their digital presence, to define optimized workflows and processes and enable employees to design the flow of their day for maximum productivity, all without extensive programming experience.
Being able to build custom online forms to help constituents do everything from obtaining marriage and birth certificates, to paying parking fines and council tax, to reporting potholes and graffiti will help local governments ensure a transparent and responsive service that citizens trust.
4. Embracing data opportunities and challenges
As one of the biggest data collectors, one of the major opportunities local government organizations have to move their digital presence forward is being able to collect and share their data with one another to create better citizen experiences and outcomes.
But Tilly Tan, Chief Data Scientist for Catapult IT, told participants at our webinar that while they may be awash with data, many organizations are not yet able to leverage it. They do not have the tools to turn their data into actionable insights that help them improve the way they work and serve the public.
Tilly told us that data science, predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence can be harnessed to improve the work government organizations do and to solve real problems.
With a solution and data strategy that helps you turn well-integrated, good-quality data into valuable, actionable insights, not only will you be able to deliver a better employee and constituent experience, but you’ll be alerted to potential issues and can use predictive analysis and modelling to monitor and ensure quality and compliance across your partners and regions.
Catapult BI was able to improve one commonwealth government care agency’s ability to detect fraudulent applications for care by 153% and to create savings of 115 million AUD over two years using in-depth data analysis.
So, a key focus of your digital transformation should be on being able to leverage your data to engage users, optimize business processes and planning, and enhance reporting capabilities. However, you’ll also want technology that can identify the types of data you have and match it against the strictest data protection regulations, including GDPR, PII or CCPA so you know you are always compliant.
5. Raising the standard on cybersecurity
Local governments are tasked with safeguarding citizen and government data, but the more organizations move their operations into a digital environment, the more they have become targets for cybercriminals and ransomware attacks.
According to the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft, 966 US government agencies, educational establishments, and healthcare providers experienced “…an unprecedented and unrelenting barrage of ransomware attacks” in 2019 at a potential cost of over $7.5 billion. And that was three years ago!
Attacks included not just phishing, but brute force (forceful entry into a network or system), zero day (via an identified weakness) and denial/distributed denial of service (overloading the victim’s system with traffic).
Back in 2014, 15% of all cyber-attacks targeted the public sector (twice as many as the previous year) and each year, local governments are plagued with lost revenue, missing data, monetary theft, and loss of constituent trust. Local government breaches in Atlanta, Georgia (2018), and Baltimore, Maryland (2019) cost the cities $15 million and $18 million, respectively.
Government websites are a target because a) there are so many of them, b) they store a vast amount of sensitive and personally identifiable information (PII) and c) they are not always well defended, perhaps because d) they are under financial constraint.
As it moves into the digital world, the government sector must place a sharp focus on data protection, governance, and compliance. Local organizations must be confident their underlying technology is ISO 27001 security certified, and that the security posture of their digital experience platform can be tailored to meet their business requirements and compliance obligations. Kentico does this by providing multiple security layers that ensure user data, the administration interface, and the live site are kept separate and by protecting your data with various authentication methods and user management roles and permissions across the entire site.
Helping government organizations meet their digital goals
The landscape for the government sector has changed. Organizations need to be putting their citizens at the center of their efforts and their employees at the core of their technology choices.
Moving to future-proof technology is a clear first step for any organization wishing to unlock the power of interoperability and shared data. Tools and technology should reflect the actual day-to-day needs of your employees and should work hard to help them do their job efficiently and effectively. Automated workflows should speed up processes and improve interdepartmental collaboration. Your website should deliver engaging and personalized experiences to users and offer a wealth of easily accessible information and self-service online forms. And while your data is helping you improve your internal processes and user experience, it should also be compliant with the strictest regulations and secure against the smartest of cybercriminals.
That’s quite a list.
However, the tools are available. If you’re interested in learning more about how Kentico helps you put a tick against every item, then join us at Innovate Australia with our partner ICEMEDIA. We’ll be there at booth M.8 on August 12, 2022.