So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way
Joni Mitchell, Both Sides, Now
It’s almost 50 years since Joni Mitchell wrote those words, inspired by the sight of clouds from both above and below in an airplane. The song observes that every part of life can benefit from different perspectives. The same is true of government processes. While Mitchell recognized that technology revealed two sides of clouds, many governments are still focusing on only one side of Digital Government.
The good news is that we are universally recognizing and moving toward a government experience similar to the way consumers interact with businesses. That is, businesses like Amazon and Uber, who capitalize on what technology can do to improve services, have set the standard requiring interactions that are:
- Mobile—that is, available anywhere, anytime, on any device
While government is generally not quite there yet, most agencies and departments are moving in that direction and local and state or provincial governments are moving especially fast to simplify two-way interactions with citizens.
So that’s the bottom of the cloud—the side that we most frequently see when we glance up—but it’s the other side, the one visible from 30,000 feet, where government is languishing. In order to deliver on Digital Government, then, government has to be digital on the inside, too.
For a business like Uber, for instance, technology inspired the execution from the beginning. There were no internal processes to disable, SOP’s to revise, legacy applications to transition or decommission and, most significant, no employees to retrain. These challenges have long impeded government’s ability to modernize. But to truly transform, to digitize, organizations have to take the critical steps to apply technology to internal mission-delivery processes—not to incrementally automate process steps as they are performed now in silos but to envision the way agencies could share information across the functional silos to take giant leaps to cut service delivery times, increase inspection or regulatory effectiveness, improve facility or asset maintenance, investigative efficiency and so on.
So what’s the other side—the inside—of Digital, Personalized, Immediate, Transparent, and Mobile?
Well, it looks something like this:
|Digital||Informed and governed|
on-line e-forms that populate account folders, centralized auto-classified content governance/reconciliation tied to ERP and mission systems,
interactive forums, online chats for questions
entity/ person-focused accounts that draw together information from all agency sources around that entity for a 360° view inside and outside. Every interaction ties to this file and new services, changes in services automatically notify entities of the change and they can see status of their requests or services in flight
|Immediate||Workflow and AI / analytics-driven decisions|
where processes are predictable workflows speed delivery; where intelligent intervention is needed, decisions are guided by analytics,
access to information is available in real-time and metrics help identify outcomes achieved and bottlenecks to refine
|Transparent||Outcome-focused, metrics and measures|
service measures are defined, routinely tracked and publicly reported in real-time or near real-time, regulatory results published, non-sensitive information provided as Open Data
(any device access), anywhere, any time for employees in the field and citizens
These are, of course, non-trivial changes for most governments and, as technologies and technology accelerators evolve, modernizing processes to take advantage of them will require continuous transformation. Yet none of us want to echo Mitchell’s refrain ‘so many things I could have done…” So as we step into Digital Government, make sure to commit to both sides, now.
Hear more about digital disruption in government at Enterprise World 2015‘s government customer panels and in our all-new Digital Disruption Zone.