Research Report: The Virtual Public Sector

The State of Digital Services

Digital services are here to stay. They will only become more ubiquitous and full-featured over time, according to a new survey of federal and state agencies by the 1105 Public Sector Media Group. The survey, conducted by Beacon Technology Partners, found seven in 10 agencies currently offer customer-facing digital services.

These services provide information, help citizens apply for permits and programs, and answer questions. Most agencies see digital services as a strategic necessity, agreeing that without robust customer-facing digital services, they will have more trouble meeting their agency’s mission.

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That is indeed true, says Kevin Noonan, lead government analyst for Ovum, a global technology research firm. “They really have no choice,” he says. “If they fail to move toward digital government, they will be out of sync with citizens’ needs and fall further behind the curve.”

Citizens are clearly in favor of government’s push to increase digital services. A 2015 survey from Accenture found while many citizens already use government digital services when offered, 86 percent wanted to increase those interactions. That means government agencies have their work cut out for them. The Accenture survey revealed that only 27 percent of citizens were satisfied with current government digital offerings; and 28 percent were dissatisfied.

Besides improving citizen service, increasing digital services provides many other benefits. One of the most important is improving the quality and speed of getting services to citizens or government workers. Both are gaining importance as citizens demand greater speed, more transparency, and better quality in their government interactions.

The 1105 Public Sector Media Group survey found 64 percent understand digital services will improve internal process efficiency. That is a key attribute, both for reasons of cost and citizen satisfaction. Constellation Research found while digital transformation efforts can take up to 24 months to get rolling, once they are fully operational, organizations can see 30 to 40 percent efficiency improvements.

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Meeting compliance requirements, reducing costs and enabling more innovative government services were other important benefits cited by survey participants. Innovation is particularly important. “Digital government involves a lot more than just taking manual paper-based services and making them digital, which just turns inefficient old processes into bad new processes,” says Noonan. “It’s more about a digital transformation—the opportunity to truly change services and citizen interaction for the better during the digitization process.”

The 1105 Public Sector Media Group survey also found most agencies are eager to learn from their citizen “customers” and agency peers about how to effectively deploy next-generation services. Noonan takes that notion one step further, recommending agencies look inward for innovation in an area that has often been shunned—shadow IT.

“Rather than trying to suppress groups that have gone off and developed applications and processes on their own, look at it as innovation that can be adopted by the agency on a larger scale,” he says.

Methodology and survey demographics

Between January 21, 2016 through February 11, 2016, 108 subscribers of FCW and GCN responded to an e-mail survey about digital services trends. Survey respondents were screened for involvement with, or interest in, customer-facing digital services offered on behalf of their department or agency. Beacon Technology Partners developed the methodology, fielded the survey and compiled the results.

Approximately 73% of respondents were technology decision-makers (CIOs or other IT managers or professionals), while 27 percent were senior managers, program managers or other business decision-makers. Approximately 51 percent came from the federal government (37 percent civilian, 14 percent defense) and 40 percent from state or local government agencies. Nine percent of respondents represented a systems integrator that offers services to government agencies.

About this Report

This report was commissioned by the custom publishing unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Public Sector Media Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Public Sector Media Group's custom publishing, please email us at PSMGCustomMedia@1105media.com.