Peoples’ expectations for mobile engagement are being set by a raft of mobile applications and channels, as well as the increasing adoption of mobile as the primary channel for communication and internet use. There is an increasing use of SMS and OTT channels, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp as an interaction channel between businesses and consumers across sectors including retail, travel, banking and utility sectors. With new digital communication technologies and platforms offering a much lower cost to serve that ever before, the opportunity for digital transformation to enhance citizen engagement is now a critical priority for UK central and local government organisations.
Committing to digital started with the ‘Transformation Program’, in which The Government committed to making 25 major services digital by default. Local government organisations are also committing to digitising services with the creation of LocalGovDigital, a network for digital practitioners in local government with an aim to raise standards in the use of digital by councils across the country. But, government groups face the challenge of delivering digital initiatives while maintaining service quality on increasingly tight budgets.
So which technologies are smart investments for central and local government organisations that will enable them to go digital faster, but also help save money and serve citizens better? Here’s my list:
Interactive mobile messaging – Low cost, better results
Mobile’s universal nature is invaluable. Going mobile means government departments don’t have to force the adoption of a single device. No matter the operating system, device type or network, all smartphones have access to the same channels. Mobile is the most inclusive channel.
Mobile messaging represents the most efficient and accessible ways for local government to communicate with citizens. Mobile channels outperform traditional channels on read and response rates. Ultimately mobile messaging represents better performance for a fraction of the cost.
Messages delivered at the right moment can help smooth the service journey and bring people closer to government services. Push and pull information services, payments, essential service updates and general information can reach citizens quicker through mobile. Messages can be easily automated using data triggers and location capabilities. Its uses extend further than just communicating with citizens, for example, on the move employees can receive and record information while on the go. There are hundreds of scenarios mobile messaging applies to and the tools now exist to be able to integrate these services more effectively into workflows and processes. For digital government initiatives, mobile messaging can help make savings in time and manpower that build up to sizeable cost benefits.
A cloud based, low code platform – The enabler
Government organisations have often been faced with challenges around data siloes and a lack of transparency across departments, with point based solutions that are not cost effective. Departments have to constantly invest in reinventing the same wheel. To help combat this, there needs to be a fundamental shift in how government creates and delivers services across multiple channels and cost effectively manages their budgets, with as much reuse as possible.
By adopting a Platform-as-a-Service approach, government organisations can reduce the complexity of digitising services. A cloud-based platform approach that centralises the creation and management of communication, payments and other services will help government to enable digital transformation with high levels of reuse. Via one platform, different departments can create and manage cost effective services across multiple channels. This approach helps address the resource issues around securing in-house developer resource and reduce the number of different vendors used by multiple departments.
Facebook’s Messenger Chatbots – The future
One of latest digital disruptors that could have an impact on how government engages with citizens is Facebook’s Messenger Chatbots. Launched at the Facebook F8 2016 conference, chatbots are automated agents that provide messaging based conversational engagement, responding with structured messages, images, links and call-to-action buttons. A bot could automate all but the most complex citizen interactions in theory. People simply chat with the bot to have enquiries answered, make payments, book appointments, and gather information for a range for government services. This could massively increase efficiency for central and local government departments, reducing costs and demand on resources. However, the potential of chat bots depends on if they become part of everyday life and how easily they can be integrated into operations.
At the end of the day, human interaction is vital to any provision of public services. But, the promise of digital can significantly improve the service experience, drive greater cost efficiency and increase accessibility.
IMImobile has worked with governments around the globe to digitise communications services and harness the power of mobile technology. If you would like to talk about your challenges or our solutions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org