How close is Europe to bringing eGovernment fully to fruition? It is clear that there is a determination to change, but still a number of obstacles standing in the way of full European digital inclusion.
The EU’s Digital Agenda is here to stay, and as revealed in the recently published European Commission Benchmark Measurement on EU eGovernment Services 2012 some countries are well ahead of the curve, with national strategies up and running. For example, in Denmark, where 76% of the population uses the internet every day, the government has used legislation as a ‘game changer’ and the country has already achieved most of the digital agenda targets. Denmark, to a degree, has proven that making eGovernment services mandatory leads to higher uptake – and as such, can boast the leading position with 64% in eGovernment services usage.
The EC Benchmark report produced by Capgemini points out that others are taking a different approach, by and large influenced by specific cultural, geographical, or historical differences. One option is the development of a common IT infrastructure as a crucial starting point. In Lithuania, for example, a focus on data exchange between the major public data registers and information systems is seen as the best approach to streamline e-services and make them available in one-stop-shop portal to citizens. Other countries focus on tying up the back offices across government tiers or take an incremental approach to building trust with citizens in online applications.
Of course, the rapidly changing face of consumer technology will also make an impact on eGov strategies going forward. The EC Benchmark report points out that while satisfaction with eGovernment and commercial services has dropped since 2007, satisfaction with social media platforms is balanced. It suggests that governments should exploit new technologies in their delivery of services by using social media platforms to improve presence and increase usage of eGovernment.
Strategies may also evolve in line with customer preferences. So what do today’s citizens like (and dislike) when it comes to current eGov services? Based on the survey of 28,000 citizens across Europe, the EC Benchmark report says that declaring tax is the most popular online service: 73% of users said they will use eServices for this next time. Furthermore, time saving and flexibility in use are the most prominent benefits cited by citizens, followed by simplification and money saving. And the least popular? Reporting a crime (41%), starting a new job’ (41%) and starting a procedure for disability allowance (42%).
To find out more about the national strategies for user-centric eGovernment, download the 2012 report here.