Capping IT Off

Capping IT Off

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

Re-thinking Europe’s digital transformation

Something’s going wrong on Europe’s journey to digital inclusion. Despite more than a decade of eGovernment initiatives, use of public online services is not meeting expectations. This is one of the findings in the annual eGovernment Benchmark Measurement of European eGov services.

Conducted by Capgemini the survey highlighted progress towards eGov across Europe in four areas: user centricity, transparency, cross-border mobility, and key enablers such as eID and eDocuments. Based on current progress, there’s still a long way to go.

Perhaps the digital bar has been set too high. Certainly, with delivery of Europe’s eGov Action Plan for fulfilling the Digital Agenda due next year, a new approach is required. The EC report outlining the eGov Benchmark findings and recommendations doesn’t suggest the target is too ambitious, but it does make the case for “a thorough re-think of how public services are organised”.

It adds that this rethink must embrace “the extent to which governments can re-use data, to reduce burdens, and deliver faster and better quality services”. By taking this step back and reassessing the situation, Europe can still benefit from the innovative public services that the EC believes will deliver on the European advantage.

Before that, however, governments need to include both tech-savvy, young mobile-using citizens and those at risk of digital exclusion in their digital transformation policies.  The Benchmark report recommends designing services for these different user groups around life events, where an integrated set of services is organised around the life event of the user, regardless of government departments and tiers of activity. These life events include losing and finding a job, studying, and starting a business. It’s an approach successfully adopted by agencies in both Poland and Norway.

So, while the digital journey is progressing more slowly than hoped, there are ways in which it can ramp up a gear.

Download the 2013 eGovernment Benchmark report ‘Delivering the European Advantage’.

About the author

Dinand Tinholt
1 Comment Leave a comment
Dear Dtinholt, I just read your other post "Why are eGovernment services failing to attract so many citizens? What can be done to reach the ‘non-believers’?" along with this post. Both the posts were a wonderful read. I had pleasure reading both of them. It seems that the concerns mentioned in the posts need to be addressed immediately. Let us tackle this issue step by step. As per your previous post you mentioned "An even bigger percentage of the non-believers (80%) say they are just ‘unwilling’ to use eGov services and many of them prefer face to face contact above the online channel." Why do they prefer using face to face contact services than eGov services? Probably they get something more out of face to face contact services than the latter. What could it be? Problem: We all know that in a face to face contact service, we sit in front of a real person of flesh and blood just like us. There is someone to listen to our queries and take a note of them. In such a scenario, we feel a sense of belongingness and to put in blunt words, it satisfies our ego. Even when the query taker mightn't provide us with the desired help we need, we have already received something out of the transaction. This does not happen with eGov services. A person sits in front of a stupid computer who cannot respond to him intelligently and a computer can never satisfy one's ego. Not just that, eccentric people might even feel dejected. Hence a person has nothing to gain if the transaction were to fail. There is absolutely no take away. The pay-off happens only when the transaction gets through and that is available even with a face to face contact service. Solution: How to counter this problem one might ask. The only way to do it is to provide something more with the eGov services which the face to face contact service might not provide. Let your imagination run wild here. Monetary compensation seems a very apt and a good solution to this problem. Probably the face to face service might charge a hefty fee which the eGov service doesn't charge and this seems reasonable since extra staff need to be compensated for their services. Sometimes fee reduction might not counter the emotional value the former service provides. Something extra such as a discount may be offered with eGov services to allure customers towards it. It is only then will the customers be pulled towards internet interaction. It is pertinent to present a case from India, where LIC (life insurance corporation of India) started its eportal services which allowed a client to purchase a policy online. Traditionally insurance policies had been purchased through agents only. The online policy could now be purchased very cheap since it avoided the insurance agents' hefty commissions. This became such a big success that people dumped their agents to purchase policies online. They were even ready to let go off the agent's astute advice for the discount they would be receiving online. This has created another problem though. It has become such a big menace to the businesses of the agents that it is nowadays believed that in India, insurance agency is not much profitable. There are some people who still purchase policies through their agents, but majority of them are illiterate or do not know that such a service exits. Also eportal services are not within the reach of every Indian since internet network is not much developed here. Unless, there is 'something in it for them', for a customer in the new service, no one will ever leave their traditional and reliable ways of transaction. This happens everywhere. Though this would definitely attract people towards eGov services, repercussions may follow. The staff might have to be laid of or the eportal might have to be strengthened due to a huge rush in traffic that might result out of all this. One needs to take care of all this before going ahead. Regards, Anil Rajan

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