What Does Digital Government Involve?
Different governments are currently affirming their commitment to digital service delivery and the UK government in particular is encouraging citizens to interact online with public services. This commitment is based on the belief that digital contact should be the channel of first resort for citizens and businesses alike. The commitment can be clearly evidenced by various policy documents and the establishment of the Government Digital Service (GDS) in the UK. A further aspect of the Digital by Default program is the £10 million (almost €12 million) investment decision in the Identity Assurance element of the program. This initiative is all about delivering a better, faster and safer way for citizens to prove who they are, when accessing government/public services.
An Increase in the Digital Delivery of Documents
Outside of the Public Sector, the UK is seeing a rapid increase in digital delivery. More than 54% of UK adults now use internet banking and e-commerce represents nearly 17% of total UK sales, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Demographics also have an important part to play, with over a quarter of adults and half the UK’s teenagers now using smartphones. Going back to 2006 the Varney Report identified the importance of removing avoidable contact and migrating to lower cost channels in public service. In Sir Peter Gershon’s review of public sector efficiency, a savings target of £21.5 billion (over €25 billion) was identified. Latterly, the report produced by Price Waterhouse Coopers and Martha Lane Fox stated that each contact and transaction switched to online channels could realize savings of between £3.30 (almost €4) and £12.00 (over €14).
The Growing Importance of Digital Channels
Accenture’s Technology Vision sees “every business as a digital business”, pinpointing digitization as a key enabler of strategic change. Such a viewpoint is highly relevant to the public sector, in particular the need for government to develop relationships at scale. There is
a requirement for public sector organizations to communicate with the public at large, whilst including the ability to engage with citizens as individuals.
Taking a global perspective, it is interesting to observe the varying expectations of citizens from digital channels, in terms of the extent to which they are used and expectations around further services. According to research* carried out by Accenture, "Singapore, Norway and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) rank first, second and third, respectively, among 10 countries in their use of digital government — from offering online portals to access public services to employing digital channels and social media to communicate and engage with citizens."
Different Aspects of Digital Government
Digital government can be a broad, generic term and can be interpreted in many ways. In order to fully understand the relevance there are a number of aspects to consider. The major areas for consideration are:
- Personalized citizen and business identifiers to present a single customer view
- Mobility and portable devices to help serve citizens with ‘anytime-anywhere’ service delivery
- Analytics to help cope with Big Data and provide greater insight into proactive public services
- Cloud based IT architecture to gain flexibility and reduce costs
- New technologies and social media to serve citizens more effectively
- Interactive governance to enable governments to build deeper and more effective relationships
- A new generation of processes and tools to build more productive public services
- Connected health using knowledge and technology for more efficient and effective healthcare