Ever tried to fill in your tax form or submit files to government offices? Some countries are highly digitized and made the leapfrog of digital transformation, like Sweden, Estonia, or Lithuania. Others, and among them the most developed nations in the world, very much lag behind.
In some cases, digitalization did not simplify government services — it just moved the bureaucratic red tape online.
In fact, global data from Accenture shows that more than half of survey respondents (53%) find accessing government services to be frustrating, and more than one-third (36%) find government processes and interactions intuitive.
It is my belief that government should behave more like startups offering innovative services and products to their citizens — essentially, their customers.
When initiating a new service, or innovating an existing one, government should follow the same rules as a innovative startup focused on its users’ needs and satisfaction.
Last month, I spoke at the World Government Summit in Dubai on two connected topics: What Governments can learn from entrepreneurs, and how they must embrace innovation when developing services. I would like to focus in on the second.
When I speak with government leaders around the world about their digital services and digital transformation (digitization), what I constantly hear is “it is complex”, and occasionally with the addition of “I need someone to do it for me and therefore it is also expensive”. It doesn’t matter if these are DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) services, tax-related issues, social security ,or any other service. The experience is the same.
And they are right, it is complex. There are actually three main reasons for this:
- When governments offer digital services, they need to support 100% of the cases, and that’s hard to realize. It is true that Pareto is going to work beautifully, so we could have supported 90% of the cases with a simple approach and 10% of the efforts, but the requirement to support 100% of the cases makes it hard, long, and complex.
- They put themselves in the center, instead of the user. So for example, a government is likely to decide to reduce the amount of work for themselves if they offer a digital service, and define it around this objective, rather than make it simpler for the user.
- In many cases, they will outsource the project on a cost-plus project basis, which makes it even more complex as the developer will further complicate the process in order to earn more money.
How do we change that?
What is it that we need to do differently? Change the mindset, and think like… a startup or a product developer in a commercial company.
- Adopt a customer- centric approach
- Move to a Pareto optimization. It may not be necessary to support 100% of the use cases. 80-90% support will be good enough.
- Set different objectives. For example, a combination of how fast your service is adopted and how satisfied your users are may be the best way to measure how much value is delivered to the users.
Focusing on the user is a lot harder than it looks. We all want to think that we understand our customers, but the reality is each of us is a sample of one person, an amazing sample, but still just one.
The article was previously published on Forbes.