You know that song you just can’t get out of your head? I am looking at you Uptown Funk – your melody, your beat, the radio’s insistence you play every three minutes – you are the song that just never ends.
Government has a similar infectious drumbeat right now, one that just won’t go on mute – the chorus of digital. Digital services, digitization, digital native – everyone and anyone in government has gone digital. Digital is on endless repeat.
And while the move to digital is an obvious good choice, before we award it a Grammy, it's essential that we really understand how digital is and can be used in government.
As you can imagine going digital for a large and bureaucratic enterprise like the government is not a quick or easy task. And to be truly digitally savvy is even harder. Sure everyone can have an app, but that doesn’t make you a digital rock star, for that status you have to employ digital solutions to create efficiencies and cost savings.
To help uncover some digital best practices and really discover the reason behind digital services, Pega – a CRM technology company – help a digital government forum.
“Before we get too far into today’s presentation, I want to make something clear,” prefaced Don Schuerman, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Product Marketing at Pegasystems. “A true digital government transformation starts with people and process. Oftentimes the technology – the bright and shinny new app – can overshadow the people and process, but those elements are the reason a digital transformation can and should happen.”
Let’s go back in time a few years, back to a time when Hanson was on the radio and times were simpler – at least technologically speaking. Back in the late 90s government designed systems that were very siloed. Technologies and resources were used to fix a specific problem at a specific time. For example, to get a drivers license, you would head to the nearest DMV and wait in line. It wasn’t a particularly fun way to spend an afternoon, but you expected to wait in line to receive a government service. The government created the licensing technology to work effectively from that one DMV center.
Expectations have changed. “Everyone has a smartphone. You can do your banking from an app, you can check in on your 401K, you can hail an Uber, and you can message your friends all with a swipe of a finger. There is an expectation that services should be rendered with ease digitally. So why couldn’t you do your taxes online or renew your driver’s license? For the consumer – the public – it no longer makes sense that government services are not a swipe away,” explained Schuerman.
But unlike Uber – a company that was created with digital services and customers in mind – the government is saddled with the siloed legacy systems of its past. Just like with boy bands of our youth – you can’t upgrade members for new ones without a few bumps and bruises. Will One Direction ever be the same with out Zayn? No. No it won’t. But I digress. Going back to DMV example, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has separate disparate systems, creating a single click app to update a license via a mobile app is daunting.
In order to help ease the digital transformation process, Pega has come up with a four-part strategy.
- Create a team focused on digital. But don’t just have IT experts, the team needs individuals with a business mindset too who will have the user experience front and center.
- Empower the team. Give the team the leadership cover to make some hard decisions.
- Fail forward. Start with small pilot projects. Test the results and make adjustments. Be agile.
- Reuse and Specialize. Don’t just make one app for a specific problem. Create solutions that can be adapted and reused.
“Nobody wants to come to work and struggle with 100 different systems. They want simplified, frictionless experiences. Users want the same thing. If you create the right digital experiences you can create those easy experiences that have the added benefit of cost savings and efficiencies,” said Schuerman.
Digital may be government’s song that never ends, but if you are looking for true transformation, just act like Taylor Swift and shake off those haters.