Amid all the discussion for the most efficient ways of delivering digital services within the public sector, there was one clear takeaway from the GovInnovate Summit; if government is set to transform, online giants like Amazon have set the standard for digital customer experiences. This post will provide a breakdown of the keynote presentations from the GovInnnovate Summit that took place on the 24-26 November in Canberra.
"Why are we here? Everybody is online and our expectations of services are set by that," Paul Shetler, CEO of the Digital Transformation Agency provided an international perspective on why online services need to be tailored to customers' needs over public sector administration within Australia.
Gary Sterrenberg, Chief Information Officer for the Department of Human Services also emphasised the importance of customer service when delivering digital services; "the world has changed and the paradigms we use for service delivery are no longer relevant." But the question is; what can the public sector do to ensure service delivery remains relevant?
There was one noticeable shift among the speakers during the conference; citizens are now customers in the digital age, and further, customer behaviour is changing. By 2017, Sterrenberg predicts that over 90% of Australians will be utilising mobile devices, and as pointed out by the ACT’s first CDO Jon Cumming, 80% of Australia’s homeless citizens have smartphones.
According to Jon, “the digital divide is becoming a bridge”, and if government departments want to stay relevant to their customer base, they have to find better ways of reaching them. Some of the new initiatives being implemented by the Department of Human Services include wearable tech and virtual assistants to help assist people with disabilities access government services.
But not all government departments have endless budgets to blow on innovation, and as John Sheridan, Chief Technology Officer & Procurement Coordinator for the Australian government expressed, it is important that value for money is the main driver for innovation.
"The notion of innovation embraces the notion of failure, and this represents a challenge when you're using tax payers money. How much money should you risk? We have an ongoing challenge in finding what is innovative, and there are people that see innovation as a scary".
Service NSW created ‘one stop shops’ in their endeavour to deliver better digital services. Personalising government services by replicating offline experiences online was an important factor for Minister Dominic Perrottet, who stated that understanding pain points is important when delivering great customer service.
"People interact with government mainly because they have no other choice but a positive experience can make their day,” the Minister stated.
Singapore’s Chief Information Officer Chan Cheow Hoe agreed that positive experiences go a long way, stating that minimizing friction is a good start to bettering customer service.
“A smart nation is a vision for creating a better nation for the citizens. We made tax filing as simple as possible by putting everything online. And we found that many people don't even have to file tax; among all the eligible tax payers about 50% don't even have to file tax” states Mr Hoe.
But what happens if you are starting from scratch, as Estonia had to do when they were freed from the Soviet Union? Katrin Reinhold, Director of Information Systems for Estonia stated that there wasn’t any sustainability or information that was handed down “like father to son”.
“We had to recover our own republic so decided to develop our own original software. But we’ve also had to provide the same amount of services but with more limited resources”, Katrin continues:
“I think one of our success stories is integrating interoperability solutions with cyber security, and there has always been very good cooperation between the private and public sector”
In summarising the task of digital delivery, Paul Shetler states; “nobody in the digital world takes simple things and makes them complex; it makes more sense to take complex things and make them simple”.
The GovInnovate team would like to thank all those who attended, and all the speakers who provided their insights into this important policy for Australia. Our following posts will provide discussion on the best ways of making digital delivery more efficient, and most importantly, more simple.