Government digital transformation

New Zealand’s 3D Model for providing high quality, effective, citizen-centric services.

The only way to give the power back to the citizen and thus revolutionise the to embrace digital transformation.

Government digital transformation

The digital revolution has been going strong now for 30 years - digital technologies are increasingly becoming ingrained in our day-to-day life and we have ben thrown into the Information Age. Those who have never known a time without technology are becoming the majority. An ever-common reliance on digital technology has a strong impact on how people will want to interact with government. Evolving from a strictly service provider to operating more like a commercial organisation, it is up to governments to digitally transformation the way they deliver services, provide information, and interact with people. It is time for governments to put their citizens first.

Government Digital Transformation

Digital transformation refers to the digital changes that occur when technologies are integrated with all aspects of society. From a government perspective, digital transformation in the process of large scale change - from customer service to technology, to communications and marketing. The move to paperless is certainly a prominent aspect of this change and it aims to aid the communication between citizen and government - making it more appealing and efficient. However, due to policy, procedure and tradition, this process of change can often be particularly challenging for governments.

Efficiency vs Complexity

As society becomes more reliant on digital, patience will run thin for ‘old ways’ of interacting with a government department or service provider - this is particularly the case for younger generations. Waiting in a queue, manually filling out long forms, spending time on hold. These are all now avoidable wastes of time. When appropriate, governments should be able to move away from paper to digital and in turn provide a no fuss, streamlined digital service that meets their citizens needs in an effective and efficient manner. This is easier said than done, however, as governments can be extremely complex beasts (sometimes more complex than they need to be) and this complexity often gets in the way of government and citizen relationship. In short, there is - in most cases - an increasing gap between government and their citizens.

An unequal relationship

Governments hold all the information, all the knowledge and all the power, whilst in contrast the citizen holds very little power and can only try to gain access to the services and information they are entitled to. Even when it is available online information and services are spread amongst hundreds of various webpages and systems. The information thus becomes hard to find, and even harder to access. This reinforces the gap between the citizen and the government. Digital transformation will empower the citizen in a way that is mutually beneficial to both themselves and their government.

The Relationship Revolution

The only way to give the power back to the citizen and thus revolutionise the relationship between citizen and government is to embrace digital transformation. Richard Foy, GM for Digital Transformation DIA in the New Zealand public service, at the FWD_LIVE Government Technology Forum in Wellington last year, argued that digital transformation in government equates to:

Moving the public service into a much more unified team. Where we work together around delivering integrated services and provide experiences that actually make sense, are meaningful for people and work within the channels that they are used to working in, at the moments in their lives where it is more useful’.

What he means here is that is that providing a good digital service is only one part of digital transformation. There is also great opportunities for governments to work with partners, keeping their digital services open, in order for them to be embedded in other channels and organisations.

New Zealand’s 3 Dimensional Model

Continuing his discussion on digital transformation and government Foy also put forward the concept of a 3D model - the NZ model. Foy identified three ‘key vision’ areas that would help government provide high quality, effective and citizen-centric services:

  • Citizen vision - It should be easy to interact with the government, so easy that people will choose to do so.
  • Service vision - Digital services are designed following the three s’s seamless, smart and secure.
  • System vision - Public services being digital by choice and digital by design and the approach that forms the foundation of this.

These ‘vision’ areas are there to help the New Zealand Government be better at communicating with their citizen. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the role of the citizen to bridge the gap between themselves and their government - this responsibility falls upon the government. Digital transformation of government aims to create a unified, connected, experience between citizen and government - creating a world where citizens come first.