Government Goes Digital: A Roadmap for Simplifying Complex Technology

BrandPost By Teresa Meek
Apr 05, 2022
Government IT

Five keys to transforming the public sector

US Capital
Credit: Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

As we saw in the previous post, governments know they need to make online experiences more flexible and responsive. But many put off needed upgrades for years. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, making workers and citizens even more reliant on online processes. As a result, nearly three-fourths of global government officials accelerated their digital transformation, a Deloitte survey found. Nevertheless, 80% of the survey respondents said their efforts haven’t gone far enough.

One of the biggest barriers to change is the sheer complexity of backend systems — governments deploy a vast labyrinth of services which, to a large extent, operate independently. But “complex” shouldn’t have to mean difficult to use — or difficult to change. In this post, we’ll outline a path for simplifying systems and bringing them together in a way that creates a secure, smooth, and far more efficient experience for front-end users and developers alike.

1. Adopt a flexible, cloud-based platform.

Government systems often operate on technology created before the cloud existed. There’s often very little uniformity between departments and services, which acquired or built different technologies at different times.

That may not look like a problem to employees in sanitation or tax collection, for example, whose everyday experience with technology is consistent. But it’s radically different for citizens, who must log on to separate websites or hunt through menus often organized with different hierarchies — and even with commonly used services that can be hard to find. Even colors and fonts can be a hodge-podge of different types, which can disorient a user and lead to mistrust.

A cloud-based platform offers the opportunity to turn all this around, adapting services and programs to users, rather than vice versa. Templates can standardize design and user interface, and navigation can be based on usage, discovered through analytics. Also, implementing a responsive design — one that adjust and adapts to a user’s behavior and context based on screen size, device, and orientation — allows governments to continually adjust.

Perhaps best of all, the flexibility and scalability inherent to the cloud lets governments easily add or change services and manage demand in times of need, such as a health crisis or a natural disaster.

For example, a major federal European Union tax office used HCL’s Digital Experience platform to quickly implement an application to handle COVID-related tax delay requests, which processed 40,000 requests in a single week during the pandemic. Even without an emergency, needs and services change over time or expand and contract depending on what’s happening in the world.

2. Build adaptive security controls.

Cyber threats change, too, and they’re getting more serious. The cost of public sector data breaches rose nearly 79% between 2021 and 2020 as companies switched to remote work. Add to this, the challenge that most remote workers intend to keep working that way going forward, according to Gallup.

Cloud-based platforms can be designed and built for this complex reality, with an architecture that can incorporate multifactor authentication, role-based access controls, and sophisticated threat detection systems — as well as enable governments to support remote work with confidence.

3. Eliminate drudge work with automation.

Many governments still use time-consuming manual processes for accounting, onboarding, and other basic operations (think spreadsheets). With the right digital experience platform and cloud solution, it is easy to create automations and tweak them to fit existing processes, saving employees time and the organization money. Smart documents, fillable PDF forms, and other software-driven processes save time and cut down on frustration for citizens.

4. Foster continuous improvement with AI and analytics.

Cloud-based analytics give government administrators an accurate real-time view of how workers and citizens are using their systems. Over time, the insights they collect help them make better technology decisions, such as eliminating bottlenecks or adapting chatbots to respond to problems. Governments that get started with AI now will be better positioned for the future as the technology continues to evolve and takes on new capabilities.

5. Avoid the hazards of over-customization.

All government processes are unique to some degree, but it’s important to resist the urge to reinvent the wheel. Bespoke, custom solutions can take years to create and are extremely expensive. Choose a platform that is broad enough to handle the complexity of your offerings, but flexible enough to accommodate your specific requirements. And make sure the IT team can maintain it on its own.

Though government systems have many moving parts, operating them should not have to be complicated. Moving to the right digital platform will allow your staff to shift its focus from processes to people, creating a better experience for all.

For more information on a digital experience you can trust in the moments that matter, click here.