New study highlights digital shortfall in UK public sector

A recent study reveals that the British public want to have more digital access to and interaction with public sector bodies.

The study, commissioned by Riverbed Technology, showed that seventy percent of respondents would like to engage with public sector services through digital means, however, opinion is split as to whether public services can deliver these new experiences, with 45% believing that expectations regarding the delivery of current digital services are not being met today.

The survey also found that these days, citizens are happy to use tablet devices to check in for appointments or use social media to contact their MP, with a quarter even open to futuristic services such as driverless ambulances, drones delivering passports and robots assisting in operations.

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John Street, Regional Director, Government and Defence, UK & Ireland at Riverbed Technology, said: “The UK public are open to new digital services, with some going beyond the realms of what is available today to reveal the types of services that they deem possible for the future. Perception of digital public services is already pervasive in peoples’ lives and as such, expectations for a great experience is high.

“People are happy to pay their council tax online, use biometrics as valid ID at Border Control and use tablet devices to check in for an appointment at the doctors. These are all currently being tested or deployed across the nation. While experiences are being somewhat met, UK citizens want more. And it is up to government to meet and exceed these expectations by delivering services that are efficient, readily available and interactive.”

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The study, Government 2.0: A Riverbed Survey on the Public Sector Digital Experience, also found that over 70% would be happy to interact with different public sector departments via one portal should the government consider creating an online citizen account. Irritations and discontentment, however, comes when and if these experiences prove cumbersome, time consuming and slow to respond.

Citizens want a convenient user experience

Citizens’ penchant for instant communication and streamlined information access is underpinning their digital experience across different sectors which public sector organisations need to consider. Almost two-thirds of citizens find the amount of information they have to provide ‘off-putting’ when engaging digitally with public sector organisations. Results even suggest some would favour convenience over data privacy with 57% of respondents calling for a greater sharing of personal information between public sector departments to avoid repeated form filling.

John Street continued: “Despite continued reports and reservations about sharing sensitive data, people would like to, and will communicate and engage digitally. But only if the public sector raises its game to offer a digital experience that balances service, performance and security.

“Digital goals across different public sector departments have always been geared towards delivering integrated services that are trusted, secure and easy to use. The findings reflect these priorities which show the public sector is moving in the right direction.”

Better digital experiences need the infrastructure to support it

The study supports the belief that the public sector is behind the private sector in most areas including optimisation of information for mobiles devices (63%) and offering a range of technology available to access information (62%). Respondents view the banking sector to be leading the pack by successfully creating a frictionless experience that does not compromise on security and trust.

John Street concluded: “There are many challenges facing public sector leaders, as they go digital by default. One, as we have seen, is and will be the creation of new services that meet the expectations of an increasingly digital savvy public, while simultaneously making government more efficient. Moving to a digital-first model requires the introduction of new systems and technologies to build an infrastructure that not only improves frontline services but will see the back office become more efficient.”

Riverbed is delivering solutions to help companies transition from legacy hardware to a new software-defined and cloud-centric approach to networking, and improve end user experience, allowing enterprises’ digital transformation initiatives to reach their full potential.

Download the full Government 2.0: A Riverbed Survey on the Public Sector Digital Experience report

(Infographics: Riverbed)

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