It seems fashionable these days to knock the modern obsession with mobile gadgets, but the reality is, mobile technology is mostly about connecting with people.
It’s called “social” media for a reason, bridging the gulfs of time and distance to connect people at the touch of a button.
We connect with family and friends, wherever they are, on platforms like Facebook. We network using sites like LinkedIn. And we transact with complete strangers on AirBnB and eBay.
This “connection effect” is shaping up as an unstoppable force, especially for the so-called Tinder generation. Unfortunately one of the immovable objects the social-tech juggernaut frequently clashes with is government, which has a tendency to remain wedded to the past.
One reason governments find it hard to keep up is the “silo effect”, where different parts of an organisation work independently, and sometimes at cross-purposes. Duplication, inefficiency, high cost and frustrated end-users are just some of the consequences.
The private sector has come a long way in overcoming these barriers, but in government, the silo effect persists, prompting India’s PM Narendra Modi to remark that “each government department seems to be a government in itself.”
Today, technology is changing the game: a Deloitte Digital report released late last year predicted that new digital technology will be responsible for most profoundly disrupting and reshaping the public sector.
We are seeing this change play out right here in NSW.
In 2013, the NSW Government embarked on an ambitious program to change the way services are delivered to citizens and businesses, tackling the silo mentality head-on.
This has involved rolling more than 850 transactions from 40 agencies into a single focal point: Service NSW. Rather than navigating multiple government agency shopfronts, phone numbers and websites, now there is just one shopfront, one phone number, one website.
Today we are taking the next step, launching a “one-touch” online account for transacting with government: MyServiceNSW.
Logging into your personalised MyServiceNSW account on the Service NSW website or mobile app allows you to manage your profile details, perform transactions like renewing your vehicle registration, updating your licence details, paying fines, and as the platform grows, keeping track of your interactions with multiple agencies.
Your MyServiceNSW account will eventually be the “online one-stop shop” for all NSW government interactions across agencies, dispensing with the need for separate login details and online accounts for different agencies.
For now, we are starting small and building in functionality over time, making sure we get the basics right.
Security and privacy are key concerns when transacting online — whether with government or private organisations — so in developing MyServiceNSW we have made sure to implement industry best-practice privacy and security measures.
Other jurisdictions heading down this path have tended to focus on connecting back end technology infrastructure, bringing offline processes into the online world without full digitisation, and leaving customer experience and usability last.
However the maturity of today’s cloud, social and mobile platforms offers a unique opportunity to design digital services from the customer perspective, prototyping and learning as we go. There will also be opportunities in the future to potentially integrate with existing platforms, like the Federal Government’s myGov offering.
The MyServiceNSW account is central to the NSW Government’s technology strategy, but like any consumer technology, it needs to be built around people to be successful.
That’s because getting the right tools in place is only part of the job: the “human touch” is just as important. That’s why when you enter a Service NSW centre, you are greeted by a concierge. It’s why, when you ring our contact centre, you speak with a real person not a robot. And it’s why, when you visit our website, you can live-chat with someone from our support team.
I like to call this “digital assisted service”, blending the latest technology with the best customer service. It’s a formula that works, and given the average 98 per cent satisfaction rating Service NSW has received from customers so far (something we can monitor in real time), it’s an approach the people of NSW seem to appreciate too.
When Premier Mike Baird relaunched the State and Premier’s Priorities last year, he identified improving customer service and digitising government services as twin focal points, signalling that outdated, fragmented and bureaucratic approaches to service delivery are firmly in the Government’s sights.
We have already announced an exciting suite of digital innovations, from the first digital licences in the country (which begin rolling out from the middle of 2016), to the recently announced update to the ServiceNSW app that allows users to pay and contest fines, and view photos of road and traffic infringements right from their smartphone.
The future of digital government holds many exciting possibilities. The launch of MyServiceNSW is just one more step in this journey of change.