This pandemic has changed the world order. It has enhanced our day-to-day activities, such as shopping, traveling, entertainment, and how we work. There is no denying that COVID-19 has had a far-reaching impact. It has accelerated the experiences we are expecting out of digital means. Direct-to-consumer business models are becoming a trend in the business scenario; similarly, citizen services are also expected to undergo a significant shift owing to a consumer-like expectation while engaging with the government. Moreover, the responsibility of governments will see a change post COVID, due to higher expectations in health, safety in public places, and public transportation. Social distancing needs will also make government office visits an undesirable activity.
Digital government is surely undergoing change, more rapidly in the last 5 years, and citizen centricity is going to look beyond simple digital enablement. The objective will be to bring about improvements in public service delivery, increasing people’s engagement, enhancing transparency, accountability, and inclusion, and ultimately making life better for everyone.
We see a higher role for a centrally controlled technology agency to unify the digital experience of citizens. This article focuses on an architecture view that can enable a unified view of the government to citizens, without significantly impacting the core functioning, data sovereignty, or the IT setup of the state and local departments.
The pandemic has made this change an immediate necessity, also more grounded by practicality. As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently noted, the post-COVID-19 world will be different and much more digital than before.
Some of the new approaches Governments are taking in pursuit of digital government transformation include:
Designed with customer-first paradigm, focusing on citizen journeys as a continuum-
This ‘new normal’ is here to stay, with consumers quickly expecting these as the baseline of customer service and are expecting governments to provide the same ease of interaction as well. Based on McKinsey’s Public Sector Benchmark Journey 2018 – “Residents who are satisfied with a public service are nine times more likely to trust the government overall than those who are not.”
In addition to that, this pandemic has shown how vulnerable the current ‘office visit’ based model of government to Citizens is. While the office visits have either been curtailed, only by appointments, with 50% government employees working from office, citizens have relied on digital interactions with the government. Unlike physical offices, digital ones are open to the public 24/7—and stay open during public-health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
A typical citizen journey is depicted in the figure below, bringing out how the expectations of the citizen from all government interactions are getting increasingly influenced by their experiences as a consumer.
Public agencies need to respond to this challenge and change the dynamics of citizen interactions and move to a ‘Digital First’ Strategy from the current ‘Large Modernization’ Strategy. The move from the old legacy technology can be tricky. We believe that a layer of applications that drives citizen experience and the layer that drives innovation in the form of data insights is the first thing to consider. Along with that, the other critical aspect is a strong integration layer for data and business processes. This will drive innovation in the citizen’s interaction with government, while giving freedom to individual agencies to decide on the need for modernizing and optimizing their core system of record.
The diagram below depicts a high-level view of the roadmap for a ‘Digital First’ Strategy at State level. The roadmap imagines a customer experience and life event centric view of interaction with citizens rather than an agency-centric view. Whether you are a citizen or a business, once you create your profile, the platform provides a view of existing interactions e.g. my family, my home, my car, my business, my trash, my tax, etc. and lines up services offered aligned to events rather than agency.
This roadmap can easily be extended to collaborate with other states as well as at a local government level.
Channel layer - Move to ‘Digital First’ channels, and make offices and queues a thing of the past - Shift the focus from large modernizations which take years… to digital services that can be delivered in an agile way in weeks and months. Providing G2C experiences where the citizens are adept at transiting between Website, Mobile App, Chatbots, Facebook Messenger, Voice Chat, and many other emerging engagement platforms. The aim is also to allow users to migrate from one channel to another seamlessly. As an example, a citizen might fill up part of the application on the website… continue on the mobile phone to take pictures of the documents and chat with a chatbot to complete the form… shift to voice to clarify doubts and pay using digital wallet on mobile. Omni-channel is not just about providing experience on all the channels but more importantly, the continuity of the experience across them.
Experience Layer - Build User Experiences rather than individual transactions – Focus on citizen needs, events in life that trigger services from multiple agencies – Rather than vehicle registration- think vehicle purchase, rather than ‘out-of-state license’ – think ‘moving in to state.’ This will allow other agencies to easily plug in to the citizen event and offer a seamless one-stop solution to their needs. Experience layer maps the services provided by multiple agencies into an Experience Packet. A simple example of experience packet could be the following:
Move into State
You’ll notice a lot of these transactions would require a citizen to interact across multiple central/ federal, state, council, or city government departments. The experience of the citizens in these cross department journeys can be significantly transformed.
Experience Enablement Layer – Create a digital platform at the state level. This digital platform will be the entry point for the citizen to be able to get services from the government quickly, require agencies (public and private) to plug and play the services in to this platform to unify the experience and service delivery
Integration Layer – Allow seamless data exchange with agencies, within agencies based on events that will be raised by the state digital platform, use of message queues, rest-based APIs will allow data exchange with multiple public / private agencies seamlessly.
Agency Layer – Each agency provides the data structure and the microservices to handle the related transaction flow. It consists of two core pieces: A micro frontend – Views that allow the data collection forms to be rendered as a wizard and a set of microservices that allow interaction with the back-end system of record applications. This allows a user application to be accepted and posted to the agency microservices. This also isolates the common core digital platform from entanglement with the agency-specific domain knowledge.
Infrastructure layer – Cloud First – Move the infrastructure for the Applications into Cloud, provide mechanisms for Teams to experiment with less upfront costs. Implement DevSecOps and automation both at the Central Digital Platform level, and encourage agencies to move to agile development by providing the knowhow and infrastructure.
Blockchain-based Offline Documents – Provide mobile versions of the documents such as certificates and credentials, which can be used to validate in offline situations.
We are seeing a lot of governments across the world move up the e-governance value chain, based on the UN report. However, the ease of doing a transaction is being taken to a different level by certain countries in Europe and Asia, key leaders being South Korea, Singapore, Dubai, and Estonia. Larger, state and federal structured nations have more complexity at hand, and require a greater emphasis on architecture design.
In closing, we at Wipro have been working with global governments to establish a truly citizen-centric approach for designing citizen-centered journeys, developing the core technology foundation along with an architecture for success. We have worked with central, state, and local governments, creating ‘a one government’ view for citizens, and enterprise architecture meta-model for making the Citizen Experience Continuum a reality.
We’re happy to discuss deeper possibilities and take a practical approach for an initiative roadmap and the next steps.
Head - Domain & Consulting, Travel Hospitality & Public Sector vertical
Anshuman brings 20+ years of experience in strategic business & technology consulting across industries & domains. His major focus includes expanding the domain & business consulting business, driving digital transformation, and accelerating value-centric propositions for customers. Previously, Anshuman led the Digital Charter for the consumer products vertical as well as the India business unit.
Prior to Wipro, he was associated with companies like Capgemini, IBM, I-Flex Solutions, and Aqua Management Consulting (entrepreneurial venture) in Consulting & Transformation roles. He is an electrical engineer with an MBA in finance from IMT Ghaziabad.
CTO & Product Engineering Head - Consumer Business unit
Subrat has 25+ years of experience in Product Development and Enterprise Architecture across various domains. He is responsible for product engineering of platforms and IPs such as PROMAX, CROAMIS, and TOPS, and also leads the Technology Architecture Function for the Consumer Business Unit. Subrat comes with a rich architecture background, including leading teams of architects in his previous organizations such as EDS and HP. He has played various roles such as Chief Technology Officer, Chief Architect, Delivery Manager, Product Manager, and Relationship Manager.
In his previous Organization, he was the CTO for the Public Sector division where he was instrumental in creating Products for various State and Local Govt. Agencies in US.