Written by George Fontas, Executive Vice President of Capalino+Company
While a lot has been written about this year’s Dreamforce conference, like Stevie Wonder’s tribute to Marc Benioff, Microsoft’s less-than-perfect presentation, and of course the massive turnout of 170,000 attendees, little was written about one of the biggest and most lucrative ideas in enterprise technology: the realization that government is the next big target market.
As a Dreamforce participant with a focus on public sector tech growth in New York, I have seen that federal, state, and local governments around the country are beginning to explore more aggressively how they can use technology and innovative cloud-based services to power their operations and deliver services in a more efficient and successful manner.
We’re all familiar with the bureaucratic cliche, “There’s a form for that!”, but as Salesforce.com’s Vivek Kundra perfectly framed during his keynote session, 21st Century governments should be transitioning to “There’s an app for that!”
The problem is that other than a small percentage of governments headlined by Michigan, New York City and Los Angeles, states and localities are just so bad at communicating with their constituents and managing their expectations.
According to Forrester, federal, state, and local governments in the US will spend $188 billion this year on IT projects. $47 billion or 25% of that will be spent on constituent facing technology, up 10% over 2014. Given these hefty budgets, it is no surprise that tech leaders such as Salesforce.com and Microsoft are investing time and resources in chasing these large government contracts.
While government struggles to modernize and keep up with the demands of its constituents, the private sector continues to optimize the customer experience through online and mobile platforms. We now have come to expect service that is simple, fast, and increasingly digital – three qualities that completely elude government processes. Imagine if a trip to the DMV was universally simple and efficient or you were able to fight your taxes in a virtual meeting with your state’s Department of Finance and Taxation rather than through phone calls and letters.
It’s no wonder that the majority of people in the United States are unsatisfied with their interactions with the public sector. Treating the constituent like a customer and closing the “expectations gap” will not only result in greatly improved perception of government, but also will reduce people’s anxieties about working within slower, deliberative government processes.
Here are a few features that technology companies can incorporate as they seek to partner with government:
1. Two-Way Communication: A well designed app or online platform can deliver the touch and feel of personalized problem solving by sharing information, status updates, and projected timelines as the issue moves towards solution.
2. Predictability and Accountability: Engaging constituents in a straightforward manner and providing an easily accessible history of interaction with government will ease anxieties caused by confusing government processes.
3. Feature Rich Interaction: Incorporating quality-of-design across all platforms, intuitive interfaces, and photo or video functionality especially optimized for smart phones will increase the usability of government processes through technology.
4. Big Data Analytics: Layering analytics into the full stack for public officials and supporting them with training and intuitive dashboards and reports should be a standard of service offered to governments as they seek to innovate.
5. Know Your User: Regular polling of constituents through online surveys can assist governments address changes in constituent behavior within short time frames.
Transitioning away from the awful florescent lighting and wooden benches synonymous with government bureaucracy of the 20th century, high tech-high design tools built for the customer and applied to the constituent are an attractive alternative to help governments meet or exceed the expectations of quality service. This shift can also position technology firms for substantial revenue growth.
Executive Vice President
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