Closing the gap between the system and the people: 3 reasons why government needs digital transformation

Digital transformation for government involves a whole scale change for its departments and functions, ranging from customer service to technology, to communications and marketing

Digital technologies have become ingrained in all aspects of our society, and businesses are rapidly investing in strategies to embrace the digital transformation trend. The increasing reliance on digital technology has significantly impacted how people do business and interact with government, and it is critical for government to reflect this impact in their digital strategies to minimise the cultural, information and communication gap between the system and the people.

Digital transformation for government involves a whole scale change for its departments and functions, ranging from customer service to technology, to communications and marketing.

It involves more than the concept of going paperless, and should aim to help make communication between citizens and government easier, more appealing and more efficient.

The complexity of a government system bogged down by red tape can prove to be challenging when attempting to implement this process of change. However, the following benefits digital transformation can provide for government help them improve customer satisfaction.

1. Improve service efficiency and remove complexity

The tolerance for “old ways” of interacting with government departments and services, particularly among young people, is decreasing as society moves toward being more digitally reliant. Wasting time in a queue, filling out and lodging paper forms, and spending time on hold listening to outdated music on repeat has become impractical and disengaging.

Citizens can feel overwhelmed when government processes are too complex, and this complexity is often associated with manual processes. Simple digital strategies, such as replacing paper forms with online ones, and installing computer kiosks in department offices to reduce queues, can help governments improve customer experiences, reduce customer complaints and queries, and ultimately drive productivity.

It is essential for contemporary governments to respond effectively to the changing technologies, ensuring they reflect the continually evolving nature of customer needs.

2. Re-balance the power of information

The traditional notion of governments holding all the information and power whilst customers sit at the other end of spectrum, has become unrealistic in the contemporary open-data age. Citizens – the customer of government – should be able to gain access to the information and services they are entitled to. Some governments have prematurely started the process of digital transformation without having a solid strategy in place. Their online services and information can be scattered across numerous webpages and systems, which only further enforces asymmetrical power relations.

When information is hard to find and access, citizens can become disillusioned with the government’s responsibility to inform them with critical information. Digital transformation strategies aim to correct this imbalance by designing and connecting systems that are more responsive to citizens’ needs. Well-thought out and planned digital solutions that unify systems are vital to good service provision, and thus can improve the balance of information power between government and citizens.

3. Strengthen the relationship between people and government

Digitally transforming government services can move the public service into a more unified team. It provides opportunities for governments to have their digital services open, and allows users to operate within the channels they are familiar with. This could be in the form of services that allow people to check their passport validity or apply for visas when they book their overseas travel. Digital transformation strategies can deliver integrated services and provide customer experiences that actually make sense and are meaningful to people, thus provoking a more confident approach to government services.

Government’s adoption of digital transformation is integral to closing the gap between the system and the people. By ensuring their digital transformation strategy reflects the changing digital culture of citizens, the communication between citizens and government can greatly improve in efficiency and effectiveness.

Cindy Lenferna de la Motte is director of business transformation at Squiz

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