Welcome to the future of digital government services
At some point, nearly every significant interaction with a government agency through a digital channel becomes personal.
And so it should be. Australians now expect the same kind of personalized service from online government organizations as they receive from commercial organizations – at least since CRM technologies became mainstream 20 years ago.
Yes, they also want to access general information, but mainly to find out what is available to them personally. And then they want service.
Strangely, until a few years ago, citizens were more likely to go online to find the information they needed via government websites and then join a service center queue – at phone or in person – for personal attention.
Today, thanks in large part to the pandemic driving digital transformation, many citizens and organizations want to resolve more service requests online, ideally in a single session.
Better personalized customer experiences
People go online for two main reasons: to waste time or to save time. Obviously, they don’t want to waste time when interacting with the government. They don’t know or care what segment or “personality” they belong to, they just want their needs met. And quick.
“We’ve seen a huge transformation over the past five years, from government agencies presenting information in brochures about what they do, to a much more client-centric approach to service delivery,” says the web developer Kim Pepper. Pepper is co-founder and CTO of PreviousNext, a Sydney-based company that works with multiple state and federal government agencies on user experience strategies, website builds, and content management programs using the open-source Drupal platform.
“True digital service delivery is about making it easy for people to do things when they need them, very quickly and securely. It’s about removing friction so people can transact with government digitally. For example, I recently renewed my driver’s license online and it took me less than a minute.
This speed of service delivery (“frictionless”) across government websites, apps and other digital channels is much more achievable with critical cloud-based infrastructure, says Roshi Balendran, head of federal public sector at NetApp .
NetApp is one of Australia’s largest providers of cloud data services, having provided data management solutions to support the delivery of critical government services for over 20 years. Balendran says the company has seen an increased demand for highly scalable cloud services as more agencies undergo digital transformation.
“Over the past 12 months, we’ve worked with multiple federal departments and agencies to rapidly move large-scale workloads to the public cloud,” he says. “Some customers move petabytedownsized environments in weeks. To put this volume of data into perspective, the value of one petabyte of data in the cloud (1,024 terabytes or 1,048,576 gigabytes) is more than enough to hold 11,000 high-definition 4K movies.
Balendran adds that such rapid data transfer is made possible through purpose-built cloud services that help customers plan, migrate and operate their public cloud environments.
As Pepper says, scalability is one of the main reasons cloud technologies have come to the fore in recent years as individuals and organizations continue to add to their massive data collections. By design, the distributed infrastructures of cloud services simply make them more highly available, reliable, and scalable than those served from traditional on-premises servers.
“High availability and reliability are critical when you see a massive increase in online traffic,” he adds. “In the midst of the pandemic, we saw a tenfold increase in web traffic for one of our government customers, and because the system was running on Kubernetes (an open-source system to automate scaling and cloud application deployment), it scaled automatically. You can’t get rapid scaling without cloud [technology].”
Balendran says organizations using the cloud also support our natural environment. “Continued adoption of cloud computing could prevent over one billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from 2021 to 2024,” he said.
“One of the main advantages of the cloud is the greater efficiency of aggregated resources. Cloud and data software vendors play an important role in reducing the environmental impact of the data industry and helping customers create sustainable solutions. »
The customer-centric mindset driving collaboration and innovation
In the days before widespread cloud adoption, Pepper recalls the demarcation challenges in government agencies between IT and finance teams on one side and customer-facing teams on the other.
“There was a time when getting approvals for new user experiences was a much more bureaucratic process,” he says. “You had to write a request to a change advisory board and they would review it for several weeks. Then, if approved, publication would be several weeks later.
“Marketing teams were among the first in government to adopt agile approaches and wanted more flexibility to continuously improve their services to customers.”
These days, he sees a lot more collaborative innovation driven by a strong focus on continuously improving the user experience. This customer-centric mindset drives innovation in all organizations, from streamlining administrative processes to removing friction from front-line operations.
“Innovation is now much more driven by the need to simplify things and remove what gets in the way of you doing what you want to do,” Pepper says.
“Now, with agile teams, it’s a very cooperative and collaborative approach to the flow of frequent innovation and release of releases. It also allows development teams to practice more freely by trying new things.
“I think innovation has always come from this desire to improve the user experience.”