The term digital government is at the point where it’s now being used extensively among International Government and our own Federal Government. When terms reach this prominence (i.e. “Big Data”), they take on more ambiguous meanings. With U.S. Federal Government agencies, the thought behind digital government is “one government”. With State Government, I’ve been hearing terms such as “21st century technology” and “e-democracy”. In local government, the hot topic is the “Internet of Things” (IoE). So what do all of these terms mean, and what do they have in common? Regardless of the buzzword, the solution lies in changing the way government interacts with citizens to improve services, enhance productivity and create efficiencies.
This is far different from the previous era of e-government, when the focus was simply transferring existing services, processes and forms online. Digital Government represents a transformation in providing governance and services. Although digital government is enabled by technology, it’s not simply a technology initiative; it requires a new way of thinking about service delivery, business processes and models. Digital government provides the best way forward for government organizations to engage with new generations of customers and workforce. It represents a revolution – a digital revolution, to be specific.
In other countries, the digital government revolution is really taking off. The UK Government has implemented a “Digital by Default” strategy for government departments, with expectations that going digital will save the government almost $3 billion annually (Accenture Digital Government, 2014). In Sweden, their unemployment office is utilizing digital government to help improve channels and service to their benefit-holders.
"...going digital will save the government almost $3 billion annually."
Our Federal Government launched its Digital Government initiative in May 2012, subtitled “Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People”. A great example of digital government success is how some Federal agencies are implementing solutions that will dramatically transfer the ratio of employee’s time spent in the office versus time spent with their customers (from 70/30 to 30/70), by empowering their employees to go out in the field and perform their critical activities, rather than having to perform all work at a desk in an office.
According to The Center for Digital Government’s report on the Outlook of the U.S. State and Local Government Technology Market (2014) “Governors and state and local leaders are focused on improving government performance”. The top priorities across many agencies include retiring legacy systems, reducing the service gap, eliminating paper-based systems, developing a mobile workforce, and engaging with citizens in a more proactive manner. All these priorities demand agencies adopt a digital approach.
In Local Government we are continually hearing about IoE and the benefits it will drive over the next ten years for us. Competition is driving our local governments to be our “laboratories of innovation” through implementing IoE solutions. IoE is based on the same principles as digital government – transforming government services through connecting people, processes, and things – with a focus on automation. For example, in Australia, the Transport Management Centre of New South Wales has over 20,000 devices, sending and receiving input to automatically manage traffic incidents.
The digital revolution is happening now and it’s requiring government to rapidly respond - to rethink their relationships between their constituents and agencies. Government customers will continue to demand faster, more efficient service from government agencies, which will drive even more change. To deliver on the promise of digital, government agencies have to be able to 1) simplify their systems and processes, automating everything possible; 2) engage with their customers and workforce by implementing solutions that will automatically take advantage of every possible channel; and 3) be able to enact changes quickly and efficiently.
This sounds nearly impossible – right? Well, it’s not. Leading digital businesses are doing this already today. In a new report published by Capgemini, the results found that developing an application using Pega 7 is 6.4 times faster than developing the same application using Java. In addition to developing new applications, the report also found that the analysis and design process, as well as making changes to an existing application were both 8 times faster! “Organizations using Pega 7 to implement their business processes will reap significant productivity gains, and these will continue to increase when they implement frequent changes—an inevitable part of today’s operating environment,” the report states. This agility is exactly what government agencies need to deliver on their own promise of digital government.