An interview with Kevin Tunks, Technology Advisor & Chief Architect, Red Hat
Positive engagement is crucial for citizens’ trust in government and affirms the contract between the government and their constituents.
“That piece is really, really important,” said Red Hat’s Kevin Tunks, who helps agencies revamp their engagement capabilities.
Poor engagement, poor strategies, and poor interactions can erode trust, and there’s a lot at stake.
Stop the Wild-Goose Chases
Tunks sees flaws in service designs built around bureaucratic structures rather than usability. Constituents rarely understand government structures and people reaching out for services are often at a point of crisis. It’s not a great time to learn to use a convoluted system.
“That’s where there’s opportunity in how to design systems that support people,” Tunks said. “How can we make the experience more natural, like asking a question of your preferred home automation assistant?”
Data Drives Sequenced Services
Leveraging data can lead to more sequenced services, more graceful engagement, and the best outcomes for constituents. An optimal sequence, with natural steps between services, is cost-effective for both the user and agencies.
That’s Red Hat’s focus as it works with agencies to implement open hybrid cloud approaches that integrate data, modernize system components and transform legacy systems.
“A lot of agencies are starting to realize that data is at the core of what they do,” said Tunks. “So, bringing those assets together, to help them analyze and use the information, becomes really important in delivering better constituent experiences.”
Cloud-based datasets that are accessible to agency personnel can help significantly.
In recent years, Red Hat assisted the Tennessee Department of Human Services modernize to deliver better constituent experiences. The department wanted to improve the continuity of platforms, set open standards, and use adaptive, flexible, and broadly accessible technologies.
With data and system integrations, the department updated services, added microservices, and accelerated development, with adaptable and responsive constituent engagement channels.
Tunks said the changes are a great story of incremental value, with points of validation along the way that confirmed the agency was moving in the right direction.
“A big part of this story is getting into that agile, shorter time-to-value cycle,” he said.
Transforming Engagement Channels
1. Realize you have to do something differently.
“When things aren’t working, you have to get into them, take some smart risks and start to move forward.”
2. Look at the culture of the agency, and work with it.
“Take small, incremental steps, build up the capability, and build up the teams to work successfully.”
3. Take that first step.
“You don’t have to take on tremendous risk, and you don’t have to take on processes that take forever. Take a small step and build some early momentum.”
4. Think about the complexity on day 2. “When you’re building big, impactful systems, you have to look at the complexity from anIT perspective.”
This article first appeared in “Your Guide to Building Constituent Engagement,” which offers ideas on how to increase engagement with your community.