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INDUSTRY INSIGHT

How to rethink analytics for citizen-centric government

Citizens and businesses expect their interactions with government to mirror the consumer apps they use every day. But more than that, they expect more responsive, agile and accountable government. For program directors and mission heads, the journey to citizen-centric government starts with asking questions, not just once, but continually:

  • Are we delivering on the agency mission?
  • How can we improve less-effective programs?
  • What can we do to reach more citizens and businesses and provide better service to all?
  • Where can we allocate funds, talent and resources to improve further?
  • Which programs demonstrate a need to update policy and legislation?
  • How can we present our government employees with guidance on what to do next?

If the answers aren’t at your fingertips, you’re not alone. For many federal, state and local governments, legacy systems consume IT budgets and time, which in turn creates serious barriers to making data-driven decisions. It’s just plain hard to collect, integrate and utilize data.

That's why the secret to providing citizen-centric government -- a vital step in digital transformation strategies -- is defining what the most important metrics are, harnessing data and applying analytics. It means using actionable intelligence to make better decisions on how government workers engage with citizens and vice versa, measuring program performance, optimizing service levels and better utilizing valuable caseworkers and other government employees so everyone is driving positive program outcomes.

Analytics must move to the front lines

No surprise then that in a recent Gartner survey of 461 government CIOs, analytics was listed among the top priorities deemed crucial for achieving agency missions.

But how can agencies avoid the analytics mistakes of the past, where data is often too stale, rarely useful for making timely decisions, limited in scope and often only available to a handful of program administrative staff? On their journey to more citizen-centric government, agencies must rethink analytics by being:

More connected. Agencies should embed insights and recommendations into constituent engagement systems that government workers use every day, like case- and contact-management apps,  to enable better decisions at the direct point of citizen engagement.

More intelligent. For front-line workers, traditional “what happened” descriptive analytics just doesn’t cut it anymore. AI and prescriptive analytics can provide immediately useful answers to questions like “what will happen?” and “what should I do?” by suggesting, for example, what building permits are required or whether or not they should be approved.

More mobile.  To be truly actionable, analytics must enable government workers working remotely to securely access metrics and recommendations from the agency office via the web, tablet or phone. Social worker house calls or building inspections make this necessary.

More unified. Finally,  analytics must move beyond the traditional, rigid data warehouse and connect disparate web, back/front-office and legacy government applications into an agile cloud data store that is more responsive to data needs. Such a system would allow agencies to determine, for example, how usage of government assistant programs relates to ZIP code and nearby resources.

Applying insight to program effectiveness

Done right, analytics can help agencies deploy valuable caseworkers more effectively, measure the success of new digital channels and enable continual improvement for better service and outcomes.

The Colorado Benefits Management System  is used by more than 5,000 county and medical assistance site employees across the state to determine an individual's eligibility for assistance. The prior legacy IT system hindered the state's ability to respond to citizens in a timely manner, while also costing taxpayer dollars.

Now, analytics automate CBMS reporting and provide a deeper understanding of data and performance at both the state and individual county levels. Dashboards deliver insight on CBMS key performance indicators such as staff workloads, how long it takes to process new applications and where applications are getting backlogged, empowering state and counties to make better decisions, more effectively manage their employees and find ways to continually improve operational efficiency.

Drilling deeper into use cases for analytics in government

The fact is that there is almost an unlimited number of government use cases for the latest analytics, from enabling health-care or social-services caseworkers to work more efficiently, to enabling emergency response and recovery agencies to use location intelligence and citizen impact to prioritize resources. With analytics as a co-pilot, government organizations can break the cycle of slow-moving bureaucracies to move faster and better allocate services.

About the Author

Keri Brooke is VP of product marketing at Salesforce.

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