Vision for delivering Digital Services

Our vision for the ACT Government is to provide a full range of Digital services that facilitate the growth of our economy and nurture our culture and community. We seek to provide services that are enthusiastically adopted as the preferred engagement channel for our customers. For those who are unable or unwilling to engage using digital channels, we will provide cost-effective alternatives that provide an engaging customer experience.

But how do we make this more tangible? What do we mean by Digital service? What are the critical attributes of digital service? They are as follows:

  • The customer is at the centre of the Digital service we provide. We perform this service for them—not to them.
  • To achieve this outcome we will bring together appropriate information from across all our services to provide a comprehensive understanding of each customer’s needs.
  • A truly Digital service provides straight-through processing. The result is immediate and does not require human intervention to be completed. Where service delivery requires a number of steps, the customer is always informed of the status of the service fulfilment.
  • The service is cost-effective for the government. Simply put—the overall digital transaction cost should be less than that of the process it replaces.
  • Public servant positions move up the value chain. Where positions are withdrawn as a result of digitisation, many of these are replaced by positions that add greater value for the public in uniquely human ways such as health, education and social services. In some cases it may enable more time and focus on those who are simply unable to engage in a digital way.
  • Speed is of the essence. New services are made available quickly and simply—then improved over time.
  • We have a Digital delivery culture:
    • we are agile and human-centred in our thinking;
    • we understand and manage risk;
    • we value our customers;
    • we value their right to security and privacy;
    • we acknowledge we do not always deliver to the standard we aspire—but we build stronger capability from our experiences—both good and bad; and
    • we remain unshakably optimistic about our future as a leading Digital community.

We must navigate a balanced approach to our Digital transformation. It is not enough to make a few quick digital statements—the “sugar fix” transactions that are simple and flashy. We must balance our diet with both quick solutions and more sustaining foundational initiatives that together build a true Digital capability.

Principle: Start with the Customer Relationship

Our business solutions will firstly support customer relationships by delivering valuable outcomes; the business processes and transactions are simply a mechanism for achieving that goal.

From the year 2000, online transactions became a growing alternative to traditional channels. Today digital channels are the primary—and sometimes the only channel for interacting with organisations. Transactions are re-engineered around digital and mobile creating a different interaction culture.

This change has been welcomed; is pervasive; and is largely unstoppable. But the change does come with responsibilities for us as a government.

To deliver great service, we must understand our customers—their challenges, their aspirations, their frustrations, their unreasonableness, and the questions they won’t ask because ‘they don’t want to be a burden’.

As digital replaces other channels we must ensure we provide an effective digital channel for all members of our community. We must find them where they are and not expect them to come to us physically and we must understand their situation rather than expect them to come to terms with our processes.

But isn’t it a contradiction in terms to have a digital transaction that fosters a human relationship? To make it work we will do two things.

Firstly we will use human-centred design in our digital development. We will put people, not process, at the centre of our interactions. This implies pulling together process, history, regulatory requirements, payments, disputes, misunderstandings and all the other core elements into a nexus of human experience. Integral to our design approach will be the use of techniques that make our services accessible to all, regardless of the devices they use or their need for accessibility options, such as the use of assistive technologies.

Secondly, we will understand when we are simply not going to have an effective relationship in the digital dimension. If an interaction cannot be enacted digitally, or the customer cannot engage with technology for any reason, then the alternative must be available, appropriate, and empathetic to the citizen’s needs. The response may range from assisted use of a digital channel at a service centre—through to home visits for complex human situations. Digital has a place in all these scenarios—we must ensure that place is effective and appropriate.

One of the most challenging aspects of the digital customer relationship as that of identity. It is unhelpful to envy the European and Baltic nations who have an embedded culture of the ‘national identity card’. As a country we have chosen the democratic freedom to have a less prescriptive government intervention. Certainly, our digital interactions with customers may run the risk of being fragmented through uncertainty of identity, but we respect the right of citizens to engage at the lowest level of identification required for any given transaction.

However, we will encourage citizens, through demonstrated trustworthiness, to undertake all their transactions through a single validated digital identity. And we will make this as simple and easy to use as we possibly can.

Principle:
Design
for Digital Business

It’s very simple. We will design all new and renovated processes to be digital.

Digital is different. The difference from simply being ‘online’ is nuanced—but it is different and getting inside those differences at a cultural level will drive our success.

To be effective and digital our service delivery organisations will:

  • redesign processes—not simply put existing processes online;
  • apply human-centred design and nudge theory;
  • ask questions of our customers just once;
  • eliminate unnecessary ‘red tape’;
  • power interactions and process with data we already have and can reuse;
  • explore the Internet of Things and the broader digital world to power our knowledge, transactions and interactions;
  • respect identity and privacy;
  • anticipate our customers’ needs; and
  • reflect a culture of public service.

We will design our digital interactions to give our customers the opportunity for the lightest possible touch. We will nudge them to comply with a regulatory framework rather than threaten the consequences of non-compliance.

Principle: Assemble Cloud services, Build only when unique

As a preference, we will buy and integrate Cloud services and only undertake bespoke builds when a unique core capability must be satisfied.

In our great national institutions, people can explore our country’s past, present and future. As the home of the Australian story, Canberra can help people discover more about themselves.

Building on the themes of collaboration and IT commoditisation we see a new paradigm on how we should construct services. Cloud is discussed in greater detail later in the foundations section. It is clear that Cloud, in its various shapes is an essential component of construction.

The ACT region is small in global and even Australian terms. That is our strength. The implied weakness is that we do not have the scale across which we can leverage investment. The economics are simple. Bespoke technology investments have a high upfront fixed cost and a small incremental cost. We get best bang for buck if we can have millions of users getting value from it. But we do not have millions of users.

We will increasingly buy cloud services. To do so shares the investment burden on a global scale and shifts the costs to an elastic ‘per user’ basis.

The velocity equations are simple too. Even with agile development methodologies, it is far quicker to simply purchase a proven product than it is to develop, test and make it ready for production use.

Nevertheless, cloud is not nirvana. We recognise that some functions are unique to us, unique to the services we provide and our point of difference for key services. For example as a self-determining Territory we have a unique and often world leading regulatory environment. In these cases we will continue to embrace our bespoke solutions and ensure we maintain them well. We also recognise that on occasions, financial constraints may lead us to adopt small bespoke solutions.

At some point in the future, as our points of difference become commoditised, we will migrate functions to cloud-based services and so continually maintain our focus on our points of uniqueness.

We will become a broker of services, using the power of Cloud to integrate best of breed solutions to complement our unique and high value bespoke applications.

Principle: Growing our Digital Capability

We will grow our capability to envision, design, broker and assemble Digital services. We will be agile, risk intelligent and create superior service value for our customers.

The ACT has made a great start. There are some fine exemplars of our maturing digital capability. Our building consents are paper-free; we were the first to have online birth certificates; and in schools our student’s digital backpacks are world leading. We are collaborating with the Federal Government’s Digital Transformation Office to deliver digital support in appointment management for those accessing health services through community-based and outpatient clinics across the Territory.

We will bring together the learning and foundations from these achievements into a more cohesive and joined-up approach to multiply our capability. We will:

  • build, and build on, “Common Capabilities”—units of technology that can be used across government;
  • adopt Bi-modal delivery —two separate modes of delivery—one traditional for systems of record and the other more agile emphasising speed and agility. This will mature into multi-modal delivery—a refined approach where the delivery is tailored to the needs of the individual directorates;
  • recognise the “ages and stages” of directorates to ensure our own digital explorers are empowered to build new capability whilst encouraging the more traditional practices to plan their digital future. We will chart a path for convergence;
  • become risk intelligent by maturing our approach to risk by balancing consequences and potential gains. We will start small and adapt. We will avoid “big bang” projects and become incrementally agile;
  • leverage the power and reach of the Internet of Things (IoT); and
  • commit to open standards, extensibility/API’s.

As we build our capability, we will not forget our engineering roots. We will still value ITIL practice and project management disciplines. We will still embrace application portfolio management. Digital is many things—but it is not careless.

Principle: Digital Service is built on Data

We will build our services on a comprehensive library of data. Data we will collect just once—and reuse many times. We know that the customer experience will only be as rich and informing as the data that sustains it.

One of the interesting characteristics of effective digital transactions is the balance of data. The best transactions are those where the customer has to provide little else other than their identity and what they want to do. As the service provider we should know all the other details and request information that we don’t know sparingly—safely retaining that new information so we do not have to ask for it again.

We will eliminate transactions where the data balance tips the other way. We will not ask the customer to provide what we already know. In particular, we will not ask repetitively for personal information as a proxy for identity.

We will:

  • use a customer’s history to enhance their future engagement with us;
  • collect data once and re-use it as a relationship asset;
  • undertake all our data collection and use in accordance with good privacy and security practice; and
  • fully commit to reuse, by aggregating and depersonalising the information we collect and providing it back to the community as Open Data.

Principle: Digital Services—Mobile Devices

Digital Services will be designed for use on mobile devices to promote access by anyone, anywhere.

There was a time when we ‘sat down at the computer’. It was the place to perform a function in our work or home life. It was delineated by a specific time and established location.

In the digital age our connectivity is constant. Our interrelationships are defined less by significant events and more by constant micro-exchanges with people and organisations through social media and mobile apps.

In the first decade of this century, consumers adopted laptops over desktops. It was driven by aggressive pricing and the convenience of being portable, wireless and cable-less.

The highly anticipated iPad (together with a range of notepads) drove a further evolution of mobility. With their smaller size, longer battery life and ‘always on’ convenience they were enthusiastically adopted. For the first time, organisations took the small screen format seriously and applications and web pages were adapted to smaller touch screen formats to meet the demand.

And now even iPad shipments are levelling off as consumers want to fit more into their pockets. The smartphone is the destination for every digital engagement.

We will therefore design all our digital interactions with the smartphone as the target. This means:

  • we will adopt a user-centred design approach that is simple and smartphone sympathetic;
  • we will use possession of the smartphone and other mobile devices to reinforce identity—if you have possession of an identified smart device we can be more confident that you are really you;
  • we will take our mobile-centred interface designs and reflect them back into larger screen formats to give desktops and our kiosks the same simple and consistent user interface;
  • we will generally design security to be independent of the individual smartphone device. We will not consider smartphones as ‘trusted’ per se and will therefore ensure our applications do not leave unsecured private information on a device; and
  • our target mobile technologies will be to the major mobile platforms that have significant market share. For other environments we will rely on on mobile aware standards (such as HTML5) that will enhance access on any device.

The Digital world is characterised by the expectation of “do it now, do it anywhere, do it fast”. Mobile devices are the ubiquitous portal into this world. We embrace them.

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