by Bonnie Gardiner

E-government is passé – digital government is the future: report

Dec 10, 2015
GovernmentGovernment ITInnovation

Government agencies looking to utilise digital services will need to turn their focus from automation and cost-cutting to customer experience and innovation, according to a new report.

In its 2016 Trends to Watch report on government technology, IT advisory firm Ovum said traditional e-government methods were ‘so pass?’, with an increasing need for agencies to implement digital government.

In its 2014, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its recommendation on digital government strategies. It distinguished between ‘e-government’, where technology was used to improve on existing processes, and ‘digital government’, where services were imagined and delivered in innovative new ways, facilitated by modern technologies.

The Ovum report found government agencies will be under increasing pressure in 2016 to adopt private sector practices such as rapid, iterative product development cycles, while ensuring that mission-critical business applications remain robust.

“The increased availability of high-quality consumer services continues to raise expectations as to what government can and should be able to deliver,” the report reads.

“Government ICT organisations face a year in which credibility can only be gained and maintained through continual successful delivery, and there remains no acceptance of failure in the critical systems that impact the lives of citizens.”

The report found maturity levels of digital government varied across jurisdictions, with some agencies making advances in their interactions with citizens, and others still struggling with back-end systems and upgrades.

In many cases, early adopters are discovering they have picked ‘low hanging fruit’ and will need to take on more risky and complex processes, the report said. Agencies must be willing to undertake major organisational change, including the switch from a capital-intensive funding model to an operationally intensive one.

“There is widespread enthusiasm within both the citizenry and their elected representatives for dynamic, responsive, user-friendly interfaces for government services,” said Al Blake, principal analyst at Ovum.

“Citizen digital identity remains critical to move past simple e-government processes to the complex, seamless, interrelated transactions of digital government.

“By exploiting the alignment of increased processing power, cloud delivery, and user-driven data visualization tools, CIOs have an opportunity to deliver capability that is attractive to policy makers, assists in targeting policy outcomes, and enhances the credibility of IT,” said Blake.