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How To Build Government Digital Services That Actually Work

08/09/2016 5:16 PM IST | Updated 12/09/2016 8:35 AM IST
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Jasper James

Digital inclusion is a top priority for the government of India. The developments under the Digital India program are rapid, and the Modi administration is launching new initiatives, and broadening the scope of existing ones, to make more services accessible to the masses. Just recently, it launched UMANG (Unified Mobile App for New-age Governance) an ambitious project to bring 200 government services under a single platform, accessible by a mobile app.

The practical implementation of "digital inclusion" will depend on the investment of the government in areas such as technological upgrades, skill development and digital literacy.

While the government's quest to make India a digital superpower should be applauded, we still have enormous tasks ahead to make it a reality. According to the Global Information Technology Report 2016 by World Economic Forum, India has an overall rank of 91 out of 138 countries in terms of IT readiness, despite improvements in its political, regulatory and business environment. Poor IT infrastructure and the skills gap remain the key bottlenecks to widespread ICT adoption.

User experience is paramount

The practical implementation of so-called "digital inclusion" in India will depend on the investment of the Indian government in key areas such as technological upgrades, skill development and digital literacy. It will also hinge on the strength of the current IT environment and its commitment to ensure a seamless end user experience.

It is imperative that government agencies have a deep understanding of user needs and shape service around those needs. But more importantly, agencies need their services to work -- and work well.

Even the most advanced technology, designed with the end-user experience in mind, will be cast aside if it's slow or prone to glitches. That's because a mistake-free experience is the most fundamental element of a good customer experience. To illustrate the point, think about fine dining.

Would it be a good experience if a restaurant decided to kick you out halfway through your meal? What if your server took 30 minutes to greet you at your table and then got your order completely wrong? You're probably not going to be a happy customer. Ambience and celebrity chefs don't matter without the fundamentals.

The same rules apply to the digital experience. For example, if I'm shopping on Flipkart, I don't really care what the user interface looks like as long as I can accomplish what I'm there to do: buy something.

The quickest route to mission success begins with fixing bottlenecks. Those constraints have the biggest impact on customer experience.

As we progress in the digital era, government IT architectures will become more complex than ever, which makes it harder to deliver on what's fundamental to customer experience: can I do what I came here to do?

Here is what every government agency must understand: The performance of government applications and the networks that deliver them are vital to the user experience. Changes to underlying technologies will empower government agencies to know how people interact with their applications and solve trouble areas before they negatively affect the experience.

What you don't know can hurt you

Before optimizing for customer experience, government agencies must thoroughly understand their infrastructure and how applications are performing. That knowledge starts with enhancing awareness by looking for where things work and where they don't.

An integrated approach to monitoring and troubleshooting application and network performance is one way to gain understanding. There are tools that automate and streamline the collection of key metrics into one dashboard, empowering IT leaders to highlight concerns. They can then assign technical teams to forensically examine the root causes of performance limitations, errors and slowdowns.

What gets measured gets improved

After gaining visibility, the next step is to create usability standards and define key performance indicators. Good standards incorporate capacity, latency and errors. A single integration point that brings network and application performance together will help create a team-oriented culture, which is understood in psychological terms as possessing generative characteristics.

By optimizing applications and networks, IT leaders can ensure that the appropriate resources are always ready for government workers and end users when they need them.

The quickest route to mission success begins with fixing bottlenecks. Those constraints have the biggest impact on customer experience.

Application downtime is another example of a constraint that must be overcome. An IDC global report on the benefits of an application performance management solution found that the amount of customer time lost due to application downtime was reduced by 67%. To add some perspective to that, the cost of application downtime for a government agency can range as high as $500,000 to $1 million per hour.

Don't let the future surprise you

Once clear visibility into application performance has been achieved and key constraints are neutralized, it's time to predict and control for future limitations. Government agencies need mechanisms that enable them to easily anticipate performance constraints and make investments to avoid them.

Today's modelling solutions help answer crucial "what if" scenarios that arise with digital service apps, allowing IT leaders to decrease risk and quantify the end-user experience before making significant investments. Those tools work in a way similar to how GPS estimates drive time and avoids traffic when a destination is set.

In future, government organizations will face mission-critical performance management challenges when it comes to customer experience. But there are solutions. By optimizing applications and networks, IT leaders can ensure that the appropriate resources are always ready for government workers and end users when they need them.

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