For governments at all levels and around the world, the past few months have been dominated by the new normal of global public policy issues. Government operations, like our daily lives, are being affected by the digital world and new technologies. Indeed, information technology is transforming and significantly disrupting the status quo.
Researchers and analysts, such as Gartner, use the term “digital business” to describe the way innovative organizations apply new technologies to achieve their goals. Government organizations cannot ignore the new “digital” operational construct, and must define what this shift means for their operating model, programs, employees—and ultimately their citizenry.
One major challenge facing today’s government is to reduce costs of interactions that rely on document-based processes, such as regulatory compliance, program eligibility and grant administration; these are still highly manual even after years of web enablement. Such “analog” approaches are being rapidly undercut or eliminated altogether through digital business models. Just as Uber disrupted government’s approach to regulating taxi cab services, other digital business models will change the government operating model.
Companies like Uber and Airbnb are built around a new digital business model that comprises user-friendly interfaces to algorithms. In this model, interactions provide exponential value to participants as more people engage. The impact is a hyper economies of scale which results in faster, cheaper, and better delivery. It’s really about change management – giving people the information and tools that enable them to do what they want to do in the easiest way possible.
Governments at all levels have been experimenting with social, mobile, data analytics and cloud initiatives. Some of these agencies have created a confusing array of mobile apps which makes government even more confusing to navigate over smart phone than in person. A more strategic approach is now needed as the next step to a more effective digital government model.
How can governments shift their business models—without disrupting service—to achieve efficiencies and improve services while reducing costs? The “rip and replace” initiatives of the past 15 years had very high failure rates. Recent research on large institutions, including government, indicates that the emerging models will be enabled by a technical architecture that is a hybrid of two models—analog and digital; integrating long proven, reliable data and application modules with user-design focused digital enabled business processes. This is the essential shifting from “e-government” to the era of the “digital citizen.”