Three Things New Governors Can Do for Digital Innovation

by Anne Perkins

posted on 04-22-2019

As new governors look to make their indelible mark on citizens, the first order of business for many is to improve the essential services their constituents have the most issues with. Citizens are growing increasingly reliant upon government websites to access statewide services, but due to a reliance on paper, it can have an adverse effect on their experience and the perception they have of government services.

As a result, it will be more and more important for governors to make an immediate impact in the digital space. Creating a leadership position that solely focuses on overhauling the digital citizen experience, to be known as a Chief Experience Officer (CXO), is a good first start. The CXO is a role growing in popularity across the commercial sector, which is due to a widening disconnect customers often feel from the companies that they most commonly interact with online, over the phone and in person. The public sector is no different. In fact, it’s more critical because government’s main mission is to serve citizens.

To ensure freshman governors can kickstart their state’s digital transformation, it’s imperative they establish and appoint a CXO that works in partnership with the state’s CIO to oversee these three key modernization efforts from start to finish:

Go paperless

One of the first, and easiest, switches a new CXO can make is forging a path to free its state from paper. As citizens look for interactions with their officials to be quick and painless, they require a more digital experience. A proven example of this success is Hawaii. The state once used hundreds of thousands of paper forms and documents each year, which made it hard for citizens to access services in a timely manner. Agencies and offices across the state embraced new technology rapidly and the initiative had a waterfall effect across the government. Since launching its eSign Services initiative that uses Adobe Sign instead of maintaining its paper-based filings, the state has delivered 400,000 electronic documents, reducing paper usage by roughly 24,000 pages per day.

Another example is California Governor Gavin Newsom’s unveiling of a plan, which would create a new Office of Digital Innovation and an innovation academy in the Golden State. His proposed budget had a major focus on citizen and service delivery. “The transformation of state operations and programs is essential to bringing government closer to the people and building user-friendly service delivery models,” the proposal states. Other state leaders have also expressed their interest in strengthening the services they provide to citizens, including Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, who recently said, “it’s a big goal of mine to deliver services and be a customer-focused government and make sure we are bringing Oklahoma government into the 21st century.”

Incorporate AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) can help state governments increase their operational efficiency and better inform their decisions. In fact, 58 percent of CIOs say AI will be the impactful emerging area of IT within the next three to five years.

Despite the positive impact AI will likely have in automating daily workflows and ultimately shaping customer experience, there is still a lot of concern that AI will lead to mass unemployment. Though if done right, AI will simply amplify human intelligence and our creative capacity, especially for employees within the public sector. Ultimately, AI can allow state employees to be more productive and efficient by automating the mundane and tedious tasks that typically consume a government service representative’s day.

CXOs should think about what tedious processes they can automate so that state employees can devote more time to helping citizens. CXOs should determine the insights they are missing because they have too much data to manage with an inefficient process in place.

Implement a data-first approach

By implementing a data-first approach to understanding government, the CXO could adopt analytics to truly understand how to better serve their citizens. Using data and analytics can drive informed decisions. Ultimately, making decisions that are data-driven can have more impact and provide more value to your citizens. By simply understanding how your website and services are being used, your digital transformation can begin.

This can provide information for something as simple as your government’s website. For example, the City and County of Denver used data analytics to determine the key reasons their citizens were accessing the site. By leveraging the data they gathered to drive their decisions, Denver was able to determine what content was most relevant and eventually reduce its total number of webpages from 12,000 to 4,000.

For more complex problems like the opioid crisis, information is critical as you try to figure out where to spend finite money and resources. States can use the insights off analytics to determine what content people need most and understand how people are interacting with those agencies that are helping those in need. Such as, are they coming to your agency’s site to find treatment options or are they visiting the site to find the nearest prescription drop-off? Or is there a particular part of the state that is trying to find information or help.

By creating and empowering a CXO, governors can ensure that they are moving their respective states forward to a digital-first approach. These officers can make three quick wins around the removal of paper dependence, the utilization of AI and the creation of a data-first approach to services.

Topics: Community, Government, Industry, Data & Privacy, Public Policy