Always on digital: Why the bar for government services continues to rise

With the massive advances being made in consumer technology, people are getting used to being able to access the services they want at any time and on their own terms. Shopping, banking, transport, insurance, communication, interaction and, increasingly, the services provided by government agencies.

That's because 'always on' is a broad expectation that everyday individuals enjoy, along with self-service options to take care of 'micro-tasks' at their convenience. Enabled by responsive websites or smartphone apps, the availability of transactional online tools has not only changed the way we do a huge range of things, it has also changed our expectations of how to get things done. It's no longer a case of '9 to 5' and all the bank tellers out to lunch during the only moment you have to spare in the working day. Instead, it's all self-service, all the time.

In this blog, we address how consumer expectation in terms of digital interaction with organisations has been significantly raised in the last few years, along with the expert role Solnet plays in developing ‘always on’ systems across both business and government. We also explain why some existing providers will struggle with the new expectation of high frequency, digital transaction systems which are free of friction. 

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While governments don't have the competitive pressures of private enterprise the services they provide are being lifted by this wave. Agencies are interested in achieving more with limited budgets, while delivering better services to citizens to save their time and increase convenience.

These digital transformation efforts are driven by a recognition that government needs to be as good as the consumer brands people interact with every day. Getting there, however, depends on the appropriate knowledge, experience and skill, which must span everything from legacy systems and their modernisation, through to the advanced digital technology which securely connects individuals with the services they need.

There’s a question of scale and reach, too. Government services are made available to every citizen, not a market segment. Many of the transactions require a high level of security (and most services are tightly regulated, which can complicate digitisation). Passport applications, the filing of tax returns, applications for driver’s licenses and social services – these are processes which once rested solely and heavily on paper-based administration. Today, through digitisation, they are enormously accelerated, with the ability to ‘do the admin’ in your own time and at your own pace.

And, although progress is being made (take a look at the Employment Agreement Builder, from Business.govt.nz. Part of MBIE, Business.govt.nz offers a wide range of online self-service tools), there is plenty more to be done (check out the American government’s Digital Services Playbook, which provides an idea of the potential scope).

It’s not easy, though, as consulting firm McKinsey explains in a detailed examination of the DevOps approach to software development. ‘But while a range of companies are experimenting with DevOps and continuous delivery, few are capturing their full value. Legacy IT systems, antiquated technologies, complex system and project-management processes, and uncoordinated actions by disconnected teams are undermining even the most determined business leaders.’ This is often compounded by existing providers who may operate at only the front-end, design level being completely disconnected from those who are running highly complex underlying systems.

That may be so, but the average citizen neither knows nor cares about such issues. Instead, they see how easy it is to shop, bank and communicate online. And they expect the same from government.

Based on our work across both corporate and government, Solnet is uniquely positioned as a complete solutions partner to help strategise, execute and support the development and implementation of digital services goals. We're experts in the 'how' of deploying digital transformation for large and complex systems tanking an end-to-end view from enterprise technology stack through to customer experience. That way you can be assured that digital product and service offering will not only deliver a slick customer experience but that the systems which underpin it will continue to perform when you need them.

Talk to us for both strategic advice and implementation of your digital roadmap or digital product ambitions.