Digital government during and after COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced government organisations to reassess their strategies, plans and aspirations for digital transformation. Despite the uncertainty, IT leaders must quickly identify and act on strategies and plans that lead to positive outcomes.

Some organisations are embracing digital transformation and accelerating the adoption of new technologies for service and program delivery. In several scenarios, organisations will expand the role of digital government platforms.

Gartner advises government CIOs leading the transition to digital government to assess all strategy-driven initiatives, both planned and in progress. They can then choose to continue, suspend or cancel existing initiatives while identifying new opportunities.

The importance of citizen experience

Many government organisations’ approach to service and program delivery focuses on improving service delivery and shifting to be more citizen-centric. Government IT organisations are creating citizen experience (CX) management roles, digital product teams and employing user experience (UX) techniques including journey mapping, persona development and A/B testing.

This is because the average Australian engages with government for a variety of services throughout their lives: voting, taxes, health care, social security and welfare, and more. However, interacting with the government has historically meant encountering disparate websites, multiple logins, hard-to-find or hard-to-use tools, and little or no transparency into processes or the status of requests.

The rise of millennials and Gen Z combined with the way commercial companies do business has forced the government to reimagine its customer service. Think of a food order from your smartphone. You enter in your basic information, select your items, watch as the order is accepted, prepared, driver en route, and when it is time to meet the driver at your door. Then, with just a few taps, an incorrect order can be redelivered or refunded in a matter of seconds. People expect everything to work this way now. This is considered good customer service, which leads to high customer satisfaction, which leads to repeat business.

Journey mapping

Often we hear about citizen experience (CX) upgrades in reference to making websites easier to use or moving away from paper processes. But the experience doesn’t end with entering information into a website or completing a digital form. While it begins with those things, CX goes much further.

Journey mapping is an exercise to map the step-by-step experience or ‘journey’ that a customer takes from start to finish of a process. For the government, it’s putting itself in the shoes of the citizen, living the experience moment by moment to reimagine the process through empathy.

Focusing on the journey seems simple in concept but execution is much more complex within government where processes often touch multiple organisations, systems, databases and people, and consist of many steps and various outcomes. And while journey mapping is a step in the right direction, more must be done.

Digital government transformation in the post-COVID-19 world

Government organisations need a fast, flexible way to bring IT, business and program staff together to ensure new and overhauled systems meet program, outcome, accountability and government efficiency requirements.

A proven approach to successful government digital transformation is introducing low-code automation, to build new applications that execute on top of legacy systems. This allows IT to be more responsive to rapidly changing needs and reduces technical debt, while quickly delivering value, new services and cost savings.

Low-code automation quickly improves citizen experience by delivering the following:

Unified data — Leveraging a low-code automation platform means government organisations don’t have to spend time, money and resources to migrate data living in multiple, disparate, legacy systems (unless they want or need to). A low-code automation platform can pull data from anywhere into one unified record for organisations to take action, then send the data back to where it lives.

Flexible delivery — Data anywhere, host anywhere, run anywhere. A low-code automation platform allows organisations to connect and extend existing IT investments. Solutions can be deployed in the cloud, on-prem, or span a hybrid environment. Low-code developers need only build customer-facing applications once, and automatically they are delivered across the range of citizen devices: smartphones, tablets, personal computers and beyond.

Speed to production — Multiply your development workforce through reusable drag-and-drop components that empower more people to build applications quickly. With this type of rapid development, organisations can turn ideas into applications 20x faster than with traditional development methods.

Automation — A low-code automation platform can improve CX by combining the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) with enterprise workflow, case management and low-code development to enable the journey map. AI can route emails quicker by performing sentiment analysis while RPA eliminates the need to re-enter the exact same data (name, phone, address, etc) across multiple systems, as well as reducing the time it takes to route and respond. Additionally, the number of calls into a call centre to check the status of a service request can be reduced by providing communication and transparency throughout the entire process.

With increasing shortages of talent, time and money, government organisations must shift from custom code to low-code ways of thinking or it will never reduce its technical debt. Modernising government technology with a low-code automation platform gives IT the power to accelerate digital transformation projects.

The Appian platform combines RPA and AI with iBPMS, application platform as a service (aPaaS) and low-code development to deliver digital government initiatives with a high ROI. By adding Appian RPA and AI to their applications, government agencies can dramatically improve operational efficiency, citizen experience and staff engagement.

For more information: https://appian.com/solutions/industry/government/overview.html.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Egor

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